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Chicken Run

Author John Cech
Air Date 7/6/2000

Chicken Run Transcript

Brief sound clip 

You’re hearing a few pecks of the action from “Chicken Run,” a new film by the studio (Aardman Animations) and the director (Nick Park) that gave us “Wallace and Gromit,” those droll, Oscar-winning, claymation sagas of a hapless, cheese-loving inventor and his faithful, brilliant dog, who invariably saves the day.

The latest adventure from these British filmmakers is about chickens who are trying to escape from Farmer Tweedy’s chicken coops, which resemble a prisoner of war camp right out of “The Bridge over the River Kwai” or “The Great Escape.” The leader of the chickens, Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha), is determined to bust out of the camp and liberate all the hens, as well as the old rooster, Fowler, a former sergeant from the RAF chicken corps, complete with bluster, a swagger stick, and a stiff upper beak. But every scheme that Ginger tries fails–tunnels collapse, disguises dissolve, diversionary contraptions malfunction. Nothing works until Rocky Roads, an American rooster with the gift for flight (played by Mel Gibson) is blown into the the camp one day, and Ginger suddenly hatches the plan of plans: Rocky will teach the hens to fly to freedom.

Meanwhile, though, Farmer Tweedy’s malevolent wife has decided that she will become rich from the expendable chickens, and she orders up just the machine to do the job. And this really puts Ginger, Rocky and the rest of the flock on the run.

Claymation is one of the most labor-intensive of all forms of animation, but when it’s done as Nick Park and the Aardman animators do it, it’s a labor of love–nothing seems forced or artificial, and the pranks and pratfalls they manage to mold from these hunks of clay are as elegant, astonishing, and at times as hilarious as anything you might see in a Chaplin, Keaton, or Laurel and Hardy movie.

This is a film for the whole family, with something for everyone. It’s clever and funny and endlessly inventive–anything but your ordinary chicken feed–it’s the real McCoy: a movie to really crow about!

Posted in Film