DreamWorks Review: Chicken Run

DreamWorks Animation's 4th feature length film, and Aardman's 1st feature length film
DreamWorks Animation’s 4th feature length film, and Aardman Animation’s 1st feature length film

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I would first like to thank everyone who viewed and continued to view my blog and reviews. The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado reviews granted 50 views minimum each, and I had an increase in views and followers in the past week. I posted this early because I decided to post Shrek on the 14th (which I have almost completed). Please comment.

My Opinion right after watching movie

My opinion after watching Chicken Run is that it is good, likable, and enjoyable, but it is not a perfect film like Rotten Tomatoes would suggest. It has a coherent plot, good characters, great action, nice animation, and a fitting soundtrack but when I was little, I thought it was so much better than it was when I recently watched it.

Production

Production for this movie started in 1996, but DreamWorks Animaiton did not get involved in the project until 1999. Aardman Animations chose DreamWorks to distribute the movie because they liked Jeffrey Katzenberg’s attitude about making their name known in animation and to compete with Disney (this comes back into foreplay). DreamWorks distribute the film everywhere except for Europe. They had to use a lot of plasticine for the animation, and used over 3000 pounds midway through production. Apparently the movie was going to be 20 minutes longer, but they thought it was too long, so they either shortened or cut a lot of scenes. A lot of characters were dropped from the project because the companies wanted to avoid the movie being “too cute”.

Story

So in the prologue, we see the chickens’ many attempts to escape the farm, but getting caught and getting punished; this is mostly Ginger (Julia Sawalha), and constantly thrown in a coal bin for solitary confinement by Mr. Tweedy (Tony Hagarth), and is let go the next morning for roll call.

The process just repeats and repeats for 3-5 more minutes.
The process just repeats and repeats for 3-5 more minutes.

She comes out of confinement one of the mornings and Babs (Jane Horrocks) asks her if she was on vacation. She is mere comic relief, and that is it. Anyways, Fowler (Benjamin Whithrow) tells all the chicken in a soldier-like way to stand in line and to lecture them. He is also mere comic relief, and his character does not make much sense. Mr. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson) shows up and stretches her glove to make a snap sound, ordering all the chickens to stand straight. She looks at her data to see which chickens did not lay a lot of eggs, and they pick one up, since she did not lay any eggs for 5 days, and is murdered. They mumble about having another plan and why they did not give the murdered chicken named Edwina their chickens. These ladies and Fowler are very intelligent, almost as smart as humans.

It is funny to see how fat these chickens are and how Fowler and Ginger are the only thin ones. Does Ginger work out or something?
It is funny to see how fat these chickens are and how Fowler and Ginger are the only thin ones. Does Ginger work out or something?

They all watch Edwina get murdered from looking through the window and Ginger climbs on the rooftop, sad about not being able to escape. She sees another type of birds fly off, and that is where she gets her idea. Mac (Lynn Ferguson), who is Ginger’s assistant asks if they are still on, and she tells her to tell the chickens that there is going to be a meeting tonight. She then meets up with Nick (Timothy Spall) and Fetcher (Phil Daniels) who are rats that are salesman. She shows them her picture of her next plan and tells them that they need the materials in the pictures. The duo rats are sick of getting paid with a bag of chicken seeds and wants eggs instead. When she refuses, they leave her.

They have no purpose in the movie afterward. I guess they are comic relief after, but they sometimes just sit around and laugh at the chickens.
They have no purpose in the movie afterwards. I guess they are comic relief after, but they sometimes just sit around and laugh at the chickens.

Mrs. Tweedy is trying to figure out what to do that will make them make some profit, and she gets mad when her husband talks about how the chickens are plotting and scheming. She yells at him about them being stupid chickens and they are the only animals that are stupider than he is. From the way these two act, you would not assume that they are married, but like leader-minion relationship.

She is really abusive. At least she gets shit done and is intimidating. Though she is oblivious of the fact that chickens are smart. She is still a good villain.
She is really abusive. At least she gets shit done and is intimidating. Though she is oblivious of the fact that chickens are smart. She is still a good villain.

Mac and Ginger explain to the other chickens about their plan, which is to go on a catapult and fly off. They hear the footsteps of Mr. Tweedy and he checks on them to find nothing. After they leave, Bunty (Imelda Staunton) says that they should try not escaping to which the other chickens but Ginger somewhat agrees on. Ginger goes outside to sulk and she sees Rocky (Mel Gibson) “fly” above the chicken farm, but he ends up getting tossed around and stuck on the farm, injuring himself.

The slapstick in this movie is pretty affective. And we are introduced to the stereotypical American chiken? That ius kind of contradictory because a humane chicken is not a stereotype, but the personality of the character is. And I just made everything more confusing. Anyhow.
The slapstick in this movie is pretty effective. And we are introduced to the stereotypical American chicken? That is kind of contradictory because a humane chicken is not a stereotype, but the personality of the character is. And I just made everything more confusing. Anyhow.

The ladies take him into the hut and tend to his injury. As soon as he wakes up, he freaks out and the ladies flirt with him. Fowler says that they do not like him and Rocky says that “cock-fighting” is illegal where he comes from, which is America. He wants to know how he got here and they explain to him. They eventually do and he uses this as an advantage to flirt with the ladies and tells him about his cool life. Ginger than says that he can teach them to fly, which causes him to leave instantly.

He left almost as quick as road runner.
He left almost as quick as road runner.

She follows him outside and explains her situation. He still does not give a damn and says it is a tough world. They both see the circus truck and he starts to flip out. She realizes that he is a circus animal and that she will bait him out to the ringleader if he does not help them fly. He says he does not want to and that they should hide him because he is cute (rolls eyes). It takes him a while, but he eventually agrees.

It is clear that I am no fan of this character. It is just that he is so stereotypical an they add nothing new to him. And it is not like they trick us into making the type of male character fresh, like Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog.
It is clear that I am no fan of this character. It is just that he is so stereotypical and they add nothing new to him. And it is not like they trick us into making the type of male character fresh, like Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog.

He makes them do a bunch of these exercises that are “helping them fly” while he gets pampered and praised like he is Adonis. I am assuming he is staying until his “wing” heals and to get the special treatment of the hens. The attempts get sillier and sillier, and the two rays just watch to laugh at the chickens.

Chicken Run

Mrs. Tweedy used whatever money she had to buy a bunch of equipment which is used to make chicken pies.  Apparently, this is a symbol for industrialization from what I have researched.  Mac tells her that from what she has researched, she does not think that chickens can fly. Ginger says she saw him fly, and goes to look for him. Fowler rumbles on about how they should not trust him, and then she looks in another hut and finds him having a good laugh with the other chickens.

She complains to him about how they have not fled yet and they need to see results. While he is grooming himself, he says that these things take time, and she tells him if they do not see results by tomorrow, the deal is off.

Chicken Run

So after they they another exercise the next day, the chickens line up for roll call, and are nervous because no one laid eggs in 3 days. I swear Mrs. Tweedy checks on them every day? How would she not notice? Anyhow, she shows up and measures Babs. She tells her husband that she wants all of them to be as big as Babs is and to stuff them. After they eat like fatasses, Ginger tells them that the Tweedys are fattening them up to kill them all.

Rocky tells them not to worry and drags Ginger to the side and tells her she is too serious and honest. He wants her to tell them what they want to hear and they end up in an argument. The other chickens are depresses about being killed, and he decides to cheer them up with a dance. They are all dancing and having fun until Babs gets thrown through the air, claiming that she flew. Rocky cheers and his cast falls off. Ginger then says that he can fly for them tomorrow, making him nervous.

It is really weird and funny at the same time seeing a bunch of fat chickens dance and getting tossed around. Just a bunch of blobs going crazy.
It is really weird and funny at the same time seeing a bunch of fat chickens dance and getting tossed around. Just a bunch of blobs going crazy.

The Tweedy’s have finally finished building their pie maker which murders chickens and stuffs them in a cooked pie all at once. Mr. Tweedy grabs the trouble-making Ginger to be the test dummy for the machine and Rocky decides to save her. This is a cool action-packed scene. The way the two roam through the machine makes for some great shots and there is the perfect amount of suspense.

Chicken Run

Them escaping and messing with the machine caused it to break. The two return to the hut and she explains to the other hens about their grande escape and how everything will be a lot smoother tomorrow. He realizes that he must leave before he is found out. He returns to the hut he shares with Fowler and expects a lecture, but he is given a badge Fowler had to show his new-found respect and honor of him.

He goes to the rooftop and sees Ginger there. She tells him how the grass and hilltop seems so much closer tonight than it has ever been, and he tries to tell her that he is leaving, but could not find himself the guts to do so. They accidentally touch hands, and blush. She tells him goodnight and he says “goodnight Ginger”, which makes her happy because he always calls her doll face.

And now we're supposed to feel bad for him and believe in their romance where they spent 50 minutes, actually 30 since he was introduced 20 minutes in of him being an arrogant flirt who has no soppy back story to make us care or sympathize for him.
And now we’re supposed to feel bad for him and believe in their romance where they spent 50 minutes, actually 30 since he was introduced 20 minutes in of him being an arrogant flirt who has no soppy back story to make us care or sympathize for him.

So the next day, Ginger goes to get him and see that he left, and only left them the badge and the bottom half of the poster. After she connects the two posters, they all realize that he was a sham and they are all sad. Fowler rambles which causes Bunty to get mad and eventually fight him and the chickens end up fighting one another. Ginger sees Fowler’s badge, and that inspires her to make a plane so they can all leave.

I am sorry. I can not get over how weird it is to see a bunch of fat clay mobs fighting and moving around like that.
I am sorry. I can not get over how weird it is to see a bunch of fat clay mobs fighting and moving around like that.

They all decide to make a plane, and the rats are on their side as they have the two some of their eggs. They are racing to finish their plane before Mr. Tweedy fixes the pie machine, but the Tweedy’s beat them to it. Mrs. Tweedy tells him to get all of them and he sees them with all of his tools. They tie and gag him up. They finish the plane and after some convincing, Fowler flies the plane and they start to take off.

Chicken Run

As they are about to escape, Mr. Tweedy intervenes by pushing down the launch ramp, but gets knocked out by the plane. Ginger goes to fix it, but Mrs Tweedy tells her to put to down and starts to cut up the ramp with the ax. Rocky returns after seeing an ad of the chicken pie and knocks Mrs. Tweedy out for a moment. The two grab onto the rope that is attached to the plane, and the plane takes off the ramp and they escape. Mrs. Tweedy also grabs on the rope and is on the ride with then. Babs gives Ginger baby scissors and that fails to cut the rope. Mrs. Tweedy tries to behead Ginger, but cuts the rope and is let go. The farm is also exploded.

Bye bye
Bye bye

In the epilogue, the chickens create a sanctuary on an island where they are educates and their babies are actually raised. Rocky and Ginger are in a relationship and she says how their new land is even better than what she thought. The two rats are still rambling about getting eggs.

Chicken Run

Characters

Almost all of the characters are likable. The ones that are developed are pretty engaging (except for some), and the side characters only have one trait, but they are fun and entertaining. Some of the chickens are too human in their context, behavior, and back stories.

Ginger is a great character. She is as develpoed as a chicken can get without being too human. She is smart, a planner, selfless, a team player, and determined. She wants her entire farm to escape beign slaughtered, and is a very likable character; probably yht most likeable character in the movie. There is not too much else to her, but she is an enjoyable character, and is responsible for a lot of the plot. She is a good guy, but not a typical, generic one.
Ginger is a great character. She is as developed as a chicken can get without being too human. She is smart, a planner, selfless, a team player, and determined. She wants her entire farm to escape being slaughtered, and is a very likable character; probably the most likable character in the movie. There is not too much else to her, but she is an enjoyable character, and is responsible for a lot of the plot. She is a good guy, but not a typical, generic one.
Rocky otherwise is the typical selfish, charming guy who changed his mind about abandoning the group, and then goes to save them. He is somewhat likeable, but is also kind of arrogant. He was a part of the circus and escaped to have adventure and freedom. He is a flirt and almost too human. He is not that engaging.
Rocky otherwise is the typical selfish, charming guy who changed his mind about abandoning the group, and then goes to save them. He is somewhat likable, but is also kind of arrogant. He was a part of the circus and escaped to have adventure and freedom. He is a flirt and almost too human. He is not that engaging.
Mrs. Tweedy is the main antagonist of the film and  is the perfectly despicable villain. She is cunning, selfish, manipulative, cold-hearted, intimidating and most importantly, effective. She and her husband are low in money, and is down to do anything to get more money. She intimidates her husband a lot and has no signs of compassionate feelings. She is on par with some Disney villains.
Mrs. Tweedy is the main antagonist of the film and is the perfectly despicable villain. She is cunning, selfish, manipulative, cold-hearted, intimidating and most importantly, effective. She and her husband are low in money, and is down to do anything to get more money. She intimidates her husband a lot and has no signs of compassionate feelings. She is on par with some Disney villains.
He is the typical wimpy, controlled husband. He wants to please his wife in any way how, but is still careless enough to follow her cruel orders. He is also kind of stupid. Nothing else to him.
He is the typical wimpy, controlled husband. He wants to please his wife in any way how, but is still careless enough to follow her cruel orders. He is also kind of stupid. Nothing else to him.
Fowler's character revolves around him being in the war, which makes no sense since he is not anthropomorphised and living in a world where chickens are so.  His character makes no sense to the world they are living in, but ignoring that, he is an alright character. His tough character gives for some laughs, but he is not that important to the story, though he does fly the plane in the end.
Fowler’s character revolves around him being in the war, which makes no sense since he is not anthropomorphic and living in a world where chickens are so. His character makes no sense to the world they are living in, but ignoring that, he is an alright character. His tough character gives for some laughs, but he is not that important to the story, though he does fly the plane in the end.
Babs is the fattest chicken on the farm , sows, and is pretty dumb. She is mere comic relief.
Babs is the fattest chicken on the farm , sows, and is pretty dumb. She is mere comic relief.
She is mere comic relief as well, she is tough and is more realistic and her comebacks are pretty comedic and her fighting with some of the animals is funny too.
She is mere comic relief as well, she is tough and is more realistic and her comebacks are pretty comedic and her fighting with some of the animals is funny too.

The other characters are not worth mentioning.

Animation

The animation in this movie is pretty fluid for a stop motion movie. Apparently, it took about a week to create 3-4 chickens, and were built-in two scales. The “A” scale was for main scenes, and the “B” scale was for perspective shots. The chickens were made of silicone and were coated with latex covering, while the heads and hands/wings were plasticene. The chicken characters have collars and ruffles to hide the disparity between the modelling clay heads and wings and the latex-covered bodies. The animation is pretty and kind of dark, which makes sense for the tone of the movie.

Music

The music which was done by Harry Gregson-WIlliams and John Powell is decent. It has a British, war-like theme to it, and there are no actual songs in it. The score really is not that memorable, but it does fit in the theme of the movie. Nothing else I can say about it really.

Reception at Release

When the movie was released in June 23rd, 2000, it opened in second behind Me, Myself, and Irene, and dropped to fourth in the following. The film closed in November 2nd, 2000 making $106,834,564  domestically, $118,000,000 overseas and in Central and South America, with a worldwide total of  $224,834,564, with a budget of $45 million. This film got critical acclaim, with people and critics liking it for its characters, story, action, charm, and animation. It won a bunch of awards. It won 13 awards that were all for Best Animated Film/Best family film. Most of these came from local award shows. The popularity of this film among-st academy members for the Oscars to create the Best Animated Feature to be included, since DreamWorks was pushing for it to be nominated for the Best Picture Award.

Reception Today

This movie has pretty good reception today; part of it is probably because it is not directly connected to DreamWorks. It is currently the highest-grossing stop-motion feature. It is commonly known and liked among-st everyone, and is pretty known in the animation field. It is not advertised by DreamWorks (a part of this being with the failed deal with Aardman), but is more popular than most stop-motion pictures and DreamWork’s earlier films.

Final Score

Story = 9/10

Characters = 7.5/10

Music = 7/10

Animation = 8/10

=31.5/40=  79% 

Next Time……

The film that officially made DreamWors a threat to others. Review; August 21st, 2013
The film that officially made DreamWorks a threat to others.
Review; August 14th, 2013
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17 thoughts on “DreamWorks Review: Chicken Run

  1. Great article!

    I personally don’t consider the Aardman films part of Dreamworks Animation’s “Canon”, per se, but I guess Dreamworks Animation isn’t picky about which films count and which don’t (unlike Disney). Nevertheless, I quite enjoy this movie! It’s not a favorite, but not disliked at all.

    Oh, you spelt Dreamworks as “Dreamwors” in your “Shrek” picture caption!

    1. Thanks for reminding me of the error.

      I do find it weird that the Aardmin films are considered a part to the canon too, they are like DreamWorks version of Pixar. It makes sense because DreamWorks wanted to take over in every type of animation, and they needed a big hit. This film is not one of my favourites either, but I watched it a lot in my life from peer luck.

  2. Awesome review! This is actually my mother’s favorite Dreamworks film. It’s also #4 on my top 5 Dreamworks animated films list.

  3. Good review, but I think you missed some things:
    ‘Chicken Run’ is in several ways a pretty obvious homage to ‘The Great Escape’. The military style of the farm – for example, the way the sheds are constructed – is one clue; they look pretty much exactly like the shacks in the POW camp in TGE. (Most real chicken farms are much more brutal than this, by the way – the birds are kept in tiny cages, hardly to move.) Several aspects of the plot are similar – Ginger’s escape attempts and her punishment, for example.
    Secondly, what do you mean ‘the chickens are too human’? That’s part of Aardman’s signature humour, for a start – ‘Flushed Away’ is an example, and ‘Creature Comforts’, their TV show created from interviews with the British public, is another. They apply a human perspective to the world of a rat/chicken/slug, and hilarity ensues.
    Fowler’s involvement in the war *does* make sense – he says just before the plane takes off that he was a pet/mascot.
    There is a good reason for Ginger being thinner than the other chickens. If you think about it, the others have nothing to do all day except eat and lay eggs, but Ginger is actively pursuing a way out. Similar story with the thin Scottish chicken.
    The rats may be ‘merely comic’, but including them is actually quite clever. I have kept pet chickens for sixteen years, and there are ALWAYS rats in the pen, stealing food. The fact that they bargain with the chickens in this movie is just a smart spin on it.

    1. Thank you for reading.

      I’ve never watched “The Great Escape”, should give it a watch, and I do hear some weird things about farms now.

      What I meant by too human is that they sometimes act like or say something that only humans would have knowledge of that the chicken’s wouldn’t know, but they aren’t anthropomorphic really, so that is what I meant. I haven’t watched Aardmin films in years, so maybe it’s just them. Either way it didn’t do too much damage considering the score.

      Wow, I’ve never thought of that, but it does make sense, since they are the only thinkers and non-lazy ones.

      This blogging thing is still new to me, so I’m learning within every post. Thank you for commenting.

      1. You should! The Great Escape is a wonderful movie, great score, great actors, great humour but also a lot of suspense and a very serious and tragic undertone.

  4. This is a favorite of mine . Great villain, exciting action and good heart. I love the ‘I don’t want to be a pie’ line. Good voicework. It’s just one of my favorites to watch.

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