|Written by Brian Boles|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2008|
At one time or another during childhood, we heard the story of Chicken Little and the coming apocalypse. Using our imagination and the illustrations from the children's book, we could all picture the scenario in our minds. Now the wonderful imagineers at Disney Pictures have brought Chicken Little and the town of Oakey Oaks to the big screen.
Just as in the fable, Chicken Little shouted to the world, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling,” causing complete mayhem throughout the town of Oakey Oaks. This sequence of events really brings the color and life of the movie to the forefront, not to mention the sound quality! With a score that rivals blockbuster actions films and a cameo appearance of Harrison Ford, there is good reason to believe you are in for a great ride. It was definitely the best way to begin, at least choosing from the other introductory sequences they considered, all viewable in the bonus features.
When Chicken Little (Zach Braff) claims a blue piece of the sky shaped like a stop sign fell and hit him on the head while he was beneath the oak tree in the town square. As he is describing this event, an acorn falls and clunks him on the head, which inevitably leads his father, Buck Cluck (Garry Marshall), and the others to presume this is what hit him on the head. So everything is blown out of proportion and Chicken Little becomes a laughing stock, seemingly to never be let down of his mistake.
Flash forward to a year later when Chicken Little is being taken to school by his ashamed father and being told to lay low and try to avoid further embarrassment. Of course after Chicken Little is dropped off, he misses the bus, has acorns tossed at him, gets stuck in gum, loses his pants, and inadvertently pulls the fire alarm.
While this movie is clearly intended for children, Disney has always done an exceptional job making the experience enjoyable to adults, and Chicken Little continues this tradition. With witty jokes and clever word play that small children might not comprehend, it’s fun to see how the writers incorporate these details and present them to the older viewers, such as the names of Chicken Little’s best friends, Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn), a larger than normal pig and Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack), also known as The Ugly Duckling. Don Knotts charismatically voices Mayor Turkey Lurkey; always eccentric Amy Sedaris is the popular Foxy Loxy.
Afraid that he will never live up to his father’s expectations, Chicken Little goes out for the baseball team to try and make for his shortcomings. Unsurprisingly, he isn’t very good, but when it comes to the big game for his team to win the pennant, he somehow manages to hit the winning home run. Now that he is the hero, everyone has seemingly forgotten about the incident a year before and his father is incredibly happy with him. That same evening Chicken Little looks up into the sky and suddenly is hit on the head by what appears to be a piece of the night sky. He soon finds out that it is a chameleon-like device designed to blend in with its environment, which is why he wasn’t able to point it out earlier,
When his other friend Fish Out of Water (Dan Molina) presses a button on the back of the strange item, it leads them to the baseball field where an alien spaceship has landed. They board it looking for Fish and notice a map of the planets, which they interpret as signs of an invasion and it is up to them to save the day.
It is all a big misunderstanding; the two aliens (Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara) are just looking for their child and only attack because they thought he was kidnapped. Chicken Little realizes that he needs to do the right thing in order to save the town and return the child. He confronts his father about not believing in him and tells him that he needs to learn how to trust him. It is a heartfelt moment between the two, which is mildly interrupted by Abby Mallard reporting the ongoing alien assault outside. Chicken Little quickly admits his feelings for Abby before kissing her and running off to save the town.
The final sequence parallels the chaotic beginning with aliens seeming to disintegrate everything lying in their way of finding the lost child, Kirby. Buck regains his pride and helps clobber the aliens while helping his son to reach the top of the bell tower, where it all began. Turns out things aren’t actually disintegrated, but just transported into a holding cell on the ship and everything is settled as Kirby is returned to his parents.
The aliens aren’t actually as scary as thought, but are just suits to protect their fuzzy little bodies. The aliens explain that they travel to their town every summer to gather acorns to take to their relative’s house; during this explanation, the camouflage panels falls off. The mother tells her husband, “one of these days it is going to fall off and his someone on the head,” as you hear the entire crowd gasp, realizing Chicken Little was right this whole time.
Peace is restored in the town of Oakey Oats; the movie about all this depicts Chicken Little (Adam West) as the strong hero saving Earth instead of the crazy little chicken that thought the sky was falling because an acorn hit him on the head.
The disc uses the full range of Blu-ray capability regarding interactivity for users and their enjoyment. The bonus features are sure to keep you entertained for many extra hours to come.
The commentary track features the director, producer and special effects supervisor. There is ample information that’s extremely informative if you are interested in the history of this film. There is also a commentary-like Q&A section; the viewer can choose many questions to ask. It ‘s a neat feature that boasts the capacity of Blu-ray with the interactive menu, but is still something that can use a little work as it is often clunky with extended load times.
There are deleted scenes not included on the regular DVD. And while all of the original DVD features are included, many are repetitive and could have been dropped. You can watch the different introductions that had originally been created to start the film, especially if you listened to the commentary, as they were continuously discussed. The bonus features even include your own karaoke mix, and you can never have too many of those.
The included “Alien Invasion” game isn’t going to replace your xbox or Playstation, but it’s a nice start. It’s a Space Invaders-type game, and while the directions aren’t completely clear, they will quickly become apparent, but it probably won’t be too long after that until you are bored.
“Chicken Little” isn’t going to be Disney’s most memorable CGI outing, but it is a wonderful twist on the fable we knew growing up and is a great time for the entire family. Its quality of picture, sound and bonus features certainly beats anything on those old VHS Disney films you still have. I would highly recommend it for anybody’s growing collection.