October 26th, 2011

piranha - feather nest.

Disney Movies: #46 Chicken Little (2005)

Entry #36 in the 'Watch all the Classic Disney (Animated) Movies' Challenge


Chicken Little

Welcome to Oakey Oaks, a small town populated by oddly-designed anthromorphic animals. A while back, young Chicken Little freaked the entire town out when he declared that the sky was falling; the mass hysteria died down only when his father declared it was merely an acorn that hit his son upon the head. Chicken Little just wants his father to believe in him again, so he tries out for the baseball team. To the shock of everyone, Chicken Little manages to hit the winning home run of the championship game, and he is restored in his father's eyes. That very night, Chicken Little sees another piece of the sky fall, and realizes that aliens will soon invade the earth. Will he dare to tell everyone, risking ridicule and his father's love once more?

It may be premature to say this, given that I've still got fourteen Disney movies to watch, but I'm pretty sure this is THE WORST MOVIE DISNEY EVER MADE in their "Animated Classics" canon. There’s nothing praiseworthy about Chicken Little. Nothing. It’s a weak story coupled with poor character design, bland sound track and pathetic jokes in a desperate attempt to jump the Shrek / Ice Age bandwagon.

Now, some of you might think I’m just down on Chicken Little because of what it represented for Disney Animation Studios. This was the first fully-CGI Disney movie, created after shutting down most of the company’s traditional animation projects. It wasn’t just that hand-drawn animation was axed – with Chicken Little the studio also opted to stop writing original songs, instead using covers of popular pop and classic songs. In my eyes, that decision cut two of the key components to a successful Disney movie.


Yes, the animation in Chicken Little looks bad. While the texture of the title character’s feathers looked pretty good, virtually every other character looked oddly plastic and rubbery, already anticipating the hideous mass-produced toys that surely tied into the film. The colors are bright to the point of garish, which doesn’t help matters. But the character design is so ugly. The “Ugly Duckling” Abby Mallard makes me instantly think of a scene from The Simpsons, after Moe was rejected during an audition for a soap opera:
      Producer: [to Casting producer] What were you thinking?
      Casting: Well, you said you wanted gritty. In other words, ugly.
      Producer: I wanted Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island" ugly, not Cornelius on "Planet of the Apes" ugly. TV-ugly, not ... ugly-ugly.

Abby is ugly-ugly with her buck teeth, gnatty feather-hair and bulging eyes. She’s hideous. It may make me shallow, but when I watch a movie I don’t want the love interest to look like roadkill on the side of the freeway. Abby’s friend, ‘Runt of the Litter’ – what the hell is with these names, by the way? – is equally ugly. He’s a grossly obese pig with tiny legs that ought to snap under the weight of his enormous belly – since they don’t, his body has this odd buoyancy like a balloon puffed up with air. &Ugh, the anthromorphism in this film is so poorly executed. All the animals are the same size – well, except diminutive Chicken Little - the birds all have hands and it’s all just so very hideous.

Maybe I could forgive the ugliness if the movie was at least using it for comedic effect…but the attempts to bring humor into this movie failed miserably. Case in point: in one scene, the pig and the duck are singing the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”. I might have forgiven this if the movie was released during the height of the Spice Girls’ popularity, but by 2005 the band had been out of commission for several years. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t relevant…the karaoke scene was just pointless. Another attempt at getting a giggle from the audience involved the characters saying, “Pee” over and over AND OVER again. NOT FUNNY.

This is the first time I’ve watched a Disney movie and found myself addressing the air every ten minutes or so to say, “This is crap” or “This is truly awful” or “Who the hell thought anything in this film was redeemable?” It’s just a terrible film. Don’t waste your time watching it!

0 stars.
Chicken Little, you suck.