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Toon Talk: Chicken Little
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Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
As the first fully-computer animated feature for Walt Disney Feature Animation, Chicken Little has a lot to live up to: Does it carry on the time-honored tradition of Disney's traditionally-animated films, a medium that may or may not be gone for good? Does it, at least passively, justify the closing of the hand-drawn animation unit? Does the end result bode well for the future of all-CGI films from the Studio? Does it overcome the not-to-promising pre-release trailers? Does it stand up next to the giant of the industry, Pixar? Or is it more comparable to the "anything for a laughâ€? antics of most DreamWorks fare? And, most importantly of all: is it any good?
These are all valid questions and some can not be easily or readily answered by this 77-minute comedy starring the title chick of fabled folklore who gets conked on the head by a falling acorn. But, unlike our diminutive hero, you won't be screaming the sky is falling after seeing it. It certainly isn't as dreadful as those loud, lousy previews made it out to be, but on the other hand, Pixar isn't going to loose any sleep over it.
This new version of Chicken Little (actually the second Disney take on the tale; it was adapted into a cartoon short back in 1943, using the simple story as an allegory for wartime propaganda) picks up a year after that fateful acorn fall; due to the widespread panic he caused during that unfortunate incident, Chicken Little (voiced by Scrubs' Zach Braff) has been ostracized in the quaint town of Oakey Oaks and is an embarrassment to his father, Buck Cluck (Princess Diaries' director Garry Marshall). Like all young school kids, the resourceful little chicken just wants to fit in, but with his stature and his past, he is an outcast, only finding acceptance in the company of other misfits like Abby Mallard (Toy Story 2's Joan Cusack), a.k.a. the "ugly ducklingâ€?, the porcine Runt of the Litter (Stuart Little's Steve Zahn) and the curious Fish Out of Water (voiced, reportedly through a straw and a bottle of water, by the film's editor, Dan Molina).
Hoping to impress his father, Chicken Little joins the school baseball team and, when his determination pays off (plus a bit of blind luck) and he scores a championship home run, it looks like he can finally put his troubles behind him. That is, until he is struck on the head once again by a falling, octagon-shaped piece of what looks to be the sky; it turns out to be an errant, chameleonic panel from the bottom of a spaceship, leading our hero and his pals on an adventure that brings them face-to-face with what at first appears to be a whole squadron of hostile aliens. Chicken Little must race against time to stop the otherworldly invasion, and he is forced to reconcile with his father in order to save their town and prove once and for all that he is more than just the feather-brained little chicken who "cried wolfâ€?.