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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Disneyear: Chicken Little (2005)

When I reviewed Home on the Range earlier, I mentioned that there where two Disney films I wasn't looking forward to watching. In case you haven't figured it out, this was the other one. Again, I remember the trailer of this film (which blatantly stole from the trailer of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) from when I was younger and even back then I remember thinking, "OK! I'm done! No more Disney! They have clearly given up! I mean, what? They honestly couldn't come up with their own trailer so they had to steal another film's?!? Are they that f'n cheap?!? This is the same company that brought us Snow White, Fantasia, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast and now you're reduced to plagiarism for a trailer for one of your films?!? You know what? No! Just no!" Not that it's a big surprise or anything, but I hear that it bombed at the box office when it came out and the critics basically pecked at it to death. So once again, I found myself watching it for this review. Let me just say this: I love Disney. I really do. That's why I'm doing these reviews. I sat through a lot of Disney films this year. I saw the best that the studio had to offer and some of the lesser, forgotten works over the course of time. And out of all 60 films that I'm reviewing for Disneyear, Chicken Little is without thinking twice, the worst. The worst one I've had to sit through! There's no word in the English language to describe how much I hate this film! Tell you what, I'll just tell you why.

First of all, the original story of Chicken Little only takes about three pages of a book to tell. Don't get me wrong, Disney's done a tremendous job before of transitioning such short stories into film, but Chicken Little gets it done within the first two minutes. Movie over, right? God, I wish... Anywho, after the whole "sky-is-falling" fiasco, Chicken Little (Zach Braff) has become the town joke, ostracized so much that even his father (Garry Marshall) suggests that he basically turn invisible so that the whole world can forget about the incident... what an asshole. The next twenty minutes are spent with Chicken Little and his friends Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack), Runt-of-the-Litter (Steve Zahn) and Fish-out-of-Water (a water cooler) as they go through thier daily strife at school, from being bullied by Foxy Loxy (Amy Sedaris) to being pummeled at dodgeball. Little decides to change his image by joining the baseball team and actually scoring a home run by sheer dumb luck. As soon as he becomes a hero and rekindles his relationship with his dad, something falls out of the sky and hits Little in the head again. It seems it's a piece of the sky in the shape of an hexagon which turns out to be part of an alien spaceship that perfectly camouflages itself with the surrounding environment.After the four investigate the ship, they think that the aliens are going to destroy Earth. Little once again tries to prove this to the townspeople but the aliens escape before he can show the town. Once again. the town thinks he's delusional only to find out he was right the next day. But it's not an takeover per-se, it's a rescue mission because two of the aliens lost their son. After much panic, Little and his dad make up and give the kid back to it's parents only to find that they were just looking for an acorn harvest... again, I'm not making this up! The town calls Little a hero and the film ends by watching a Hollywood version of what we just saw an hour ago. Hippety-friggin-ray!

(*sigh*) Where do I begin? Let's start with the story because on paper, it has a promising premise. The problem is that it's not executed well at all. The original story is done in two minutes followed by an extra twenty minutes of padding it with a pointless baseball game, toilet humor, and pointless, painful pop-culture references that just pop out of thin air. It takes thirty minutes to get the main plot going. Thirty minutes! It just felt like the film was never going to end! On top of that, it's just obnoxious. A lot of it is just characters screaming, running around, and singing songs that aren't original, but top billboard songs that all the adults watching this wanted out of their heads years ago. And in karaoke style too. Oh, joy-bunnies!

Pure ear-sodomy! X(

The characters are nothing new. We've seen this Chicken Little before. He's the socially awkward dork with family issues that becomes a hero in the end. Everyone else is just an archetype with no distinguishing features. Abby's a nerd, Runt's the fat loser, Foxy's a popular bitch, -and Fish is the weirdo. That's it! They're not engaging, they're not fun to watch, their dialogue is annoying, they're just... ugh! The relationship between Chicken Little and his father comes across as more annoying than heartwarming. The premise: A father realizes that it's probably not such a great idea to be embarrassed by his son; by the end of the movie, what his own child thinks of him actually takes precedent over the opinions of neighbors and perfect strangers! This message is just so blatantly obvious, hackneyed, and overplayed like mad that I want to just kick it in the groin and then run!

You can collect them all in each McDonald's Happy Meal!
The voice talent isn't bad, but it's just wasted. I only mentioned that Joan Cusak and Garry Marshal were in this but Patrick Stewart, Wallace Shawn, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard, Katherine O'Hara, and Don Knotts had bit parts in the movie. Don Knotts! Why?!? Did you really need a paycheck that bad? You were talented man! You were funny! I really liked you! But... it's Chicken Little with friggin' aliens! You should have known better, Don! You should know better!

I bet poor Don regretted doing this after he died...
My biggest problem with the film is that it was made for all the wrong reasons. Remember when I said in my Home on the Range review that Disney executives shut down the hand-drawn animation studio and laid off the artists? Well, they thought that only computer-animated films were bringing in all the money and Academy Awards and that traditional animation was outdated and not welcome anymore (Bullshit!). Also, Disney's relations with Pixar were kind of rocky at this point since Pixar's films were the ones getting people's attentions. So Chicken Little was made to basically give Pixar the middle finger. Boy, did it backfire big time! The thing is Pixar made films that could entertain both kids and adults, like the classic Disney films. That's why they got so much attention and still do! This film doesn't. It's obviously geared just for just little kids and it pains me to say that for reasons I previously stated. It's almost as if the executives thought slapping on pop-culture references would automatically make the film funny. No, it just makes you look like a lazy-ass jerk! And again, the magic of Disney was that they could hit both kids and adults! There's absolutely nothing in this film that's entertaining for adults. There's none of the passion, drive, or creativity that makes us want to come back for more. Damn, Disney has really gone under this time...

Oh, I see! Just because Mickey's a Disney icon and it's an alien's watch,
it's automatically funny! Haha... GOD, F@%* THIS MOVIE WITH A $!@#$*& AND )(*E$#! UP ITS #@$!
Ugh, God this was painful... So yes, Chicken Little is in my opinion the worst Disney film ever made. It's an extremely half-assed, annoying as hell, phoned in film with an avalanche of pointless pop-culture jokes and a ridiculously slow, predictable plot and recycled characters. At least with Home on the Range, the animators knew they were getting canned and sort of lost hope when they finished it. For that, I can sort of forgive it. This film, on the other hand, has no excuse! Disney big-suits marketed this film like mad and had expected that this was the gateway to a "glorious, 3D infested future". At least one good thing came out of it: after it bombed harder than a kamikaze pilot, Disney and Pixar patched things up and Disney vowed to never make another film this bad ever again. If you want my advice, avoid this film like the plague and stick with the classic 1943 short! In fact, I'll gladly show it here just to cleanse myself of the 2005 version's god-awfulness! 


Anonymous said...

Good article, but the film actually opened to GREAT box office numbers and even was the highest grossing G movie of 2005. Check some numbers before you claim it to be a "bomb". It more than doubled it's production budget from foreign + domestic gross!

Justin Smith said...

Really? I just saw the budget and it's U.S. gross total. Didn't realize it made that much worldwide... I kind of died inside when I read that... :(

After all, I'm human. Not an expert, but an average Joe who's a geek for animation. I make mistakes often. But I think we can all agree that this film sucked.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I felt this film was made as Disney's attempts to imitate 'Shrek.' of course, like most imitations, they mimicked alot of the wrong stuff.

I know in the opening they're trying to put Chicken Little at a low point to build him back up, but it soon gets annoying and not funny to the point that the world seems to be telling him, 'you made a big mistake and made a fool of yourself, ever considered suicide?'

A major problem is not just that the film is too noisy, but the emotional moments rarely work. Abby's 'if there ever was a time to talk to your Dad, it's now' is about as subtle as an after-school special message.

Plus to me, after Chicken Little is vindicated and he and his Dad start walking off, what is the first thing Dad says?

"So, I'd like to see the movie they make about you now!"

Pretty shallow there, Buck.