Chicken Little (2005)

(In theaters, November 2005) As tempting it may be to excuse this film’s flaws by restating that it’s a kid’s movie, it’s not much of an excuse when comparing the film to any of Pixar’s offerings. The comparison is even more apt considering that Chicken Little is the first film from Disney’s own CGI unit, whcih was set up partly to replace the Mouse’s dependence upon its Pixar distribution agreement. Alas, if Chicken Little occasionally shows moments of charm and wit, the overall film suffers from a bad structure, blatant emotional manipulation and tonal shifts that cumulatively take their toll. One thing that is irreproachable is the quality of the animation and some of the character design: Suburban Oakey Oaks residents are well-patterned after animals, and the sight-gags can be amusing. Sadly, some of those gags seem thrown in the movie without much attention to their surroundings: Chicken Little is filled with individual moments that don’t make much sense in context, especially given how the film doesn’t aim for absurd humour. This ties into the weak structure of the film, which feels padded and meandering; the baseball game sequence is a perfect example of this wobbly structure, clumsily inserted in the rest of the film almost as an excuse to present baseball gags. The soundtrack seems just as forced, providing even cheaper emotional manipulation than the rest of the oft-maudlin screenplay. Fortunately, it all leads to a more focused third act that’s even funnier with fresh memories of War Of The Worlds. But even this late-start burst of energy can’t hide a film that can’t manage to transcend its kiddie audience, much to the dismay of their parents.

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