Gumby meets Monty
From the creators of the TV show "Wallace and Gromit" comes Dreamworks'
"Chicken Run," a stop motion animation flick that's kind of a "The Great
Escape" from the hen house.
Tweedy's chicken farm is an escape-proof prison for the hens, and once
they stop laying eggs the evil Mrs. Tweedy takes them from the hen house
and, well, we're not completely sure where they end up, but it isn't hard
to guess that it isn't a pleasant way to go.
Ginger is a chicken who's smart enough not to spend her days running
around like a chicken with her head cut off. She dreams of freedom, of
leading a grand escape of all her associates to a place where they can
live in safety, away from Mrs. Tweedy and her terminally-cowed husband.
Then, along comes Rocky, an American Rooster who looks as if he can fly
- and Ginger's dreams come a step closer to reality as she and Rocky work
out an arrangement by which he'll teach them to fly in return for their
shelter and support.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Tweedy has come up with a scheme to make the farm more
profitable - at the expense of the chickens' very lives: she's going to
change from being an egg farm to a chicken pie maker.
Chicken Run isn't a laugh a minute; rather, it's a gentle comedy in the
tradition of Britain's old style Ealing comedies and more recent fare
like "Waking Ned Devine." You really learn to like Ginger - and the big
oaf Rocky - and you positively hate the horrid Mrs. Tweedy and her ne'er
do well husband, the latter of whom reminds us of Hyacinth's husband on
the classic British comedy series "Keeping Up Appearances."
A note: in this politically correct age, it was good to see the villain
of the piece being a woman. Women can be mean, too (they can be strong
and good, too), though you might never know it from the way they're portrayed
as perpetual victims in much of mainstream media.
The animation and the shots themselves are first rate, though we got
a bit tired of every character having the same wide mouth made so famous
in Wallace and Gromit (that's a pretty darn minor criticism, though!).
The "Special Edition" DVD is presented in anamorphic widescreen and fits
the 16x9 TV screen completely. Dolby Digital and DTS-ES audio are terrific,
as is the video quality. There are plenty of extras, too, including directors'
commentary, DVD ROM components, a read-along featuring the film's script,
and a couple of very interesting behind-the-scenes featurettes. You also
get a Panic Button setting that doesn't really do anything but bring up
a screen of chickens running about madly, and there's also a selection
of trailers, liner notes, production notes, and even an Easter Egg or
Chicken Run, from Dreamworks Home Video
84 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby Digital/ DTS ES
Produced by Peter Lord, David Sproxton, Nick Park
Written by Karey Kirkpatrick, Directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park
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