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Chicken Run

Rated [G], 83 minutes
Starring Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha and Miranda Richardson
Screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick
Based on the story by Peter Lord and Nick Park
Directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park
website: www.reel.com/chickenrun

IN SHORT: Absolutely delightful.

It's a horrible existence for thte hens of Mrs. Tweedy's farm. Cold barracks. Old hay in the nests. A battle axe of a boss (Miranda Richardson)and her slightly dim muscleman husband (Tony Haygarth) enforce a prison camp lifestyle in which the hens must lay eggs or die. When one of her best friends is served up for supper, Ginger (Julia Sawalha) decides that a great escape from henhouse 17 must be undertaken. The question is, how do they do it.

It's a question that could well be asked of directors Peter Lord and Nick Park, whose claymation work work in this, their first full length movie, is breathtaking on every level. Lord and Park talk with Paul Fischer in their CrankyCritic® Star Talk. More important than anything on the technical level is that, almost immediately, you are locked into a story that balances that difficult line of reality versus what you can do with a character when the root of its characterization is a hunk of clay. And because Chicken Run works so well on levels that both adult and kidlet will enjoy, we're going to back off center stage. And now, stepping into the esteemed shoes of her uncle cranky, ladies and gentlemen, we present Sherri, age 10, who has been seen on these pages before as The Cutesy Critic, with her review of Chicken Run . . .

Chicken Run is about chickens who are trapped in a farm. They want freedom but they can't get out of the barbed wire fence of Mrs. Tweety's farm, no matter how hard they try. They have to lay eggs day in and day out. If they don't, they get cooked for dinner. Ginger is kind of the leader of the chickens, but sometimes she can be a little stern. But when Rocky the flying rooster comes into the camp, Ginger sees a way out. Rocky can teach them how to fly. But they don't have a lot of time to learn because Ginger has discovered that Mrs. Tweety has bought a chicken pie making machine.

I liked the way they animated it with clay figures instead of drawing or computerizing it. I thought that was neat. Like the other short movies made by Peter Lord and Nick Park, Chicken Run's characters were believable like Wallace the human and Gromit the dog. I would rate Chicken Run $8.00 because I would have stayed in theater to watch it again.

That more than covers what you need to know of the story. As far as the adults go, there shouldn't be too much trouble recognizing the nods to the great POW escape movies that Chicken Run draws from. For the slapstick elements, there's as much Hogan's Heroes in the mix. Sherri loved watching the claymation. Cranky appreciated that Lord and Park, and screenwriter writer Karey Kirkpatrick, didn't forget the old adage about the rooster in the henhouse.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Chicken Run, he would have paid...

$8.00

I said it once, I'll say it again. Delightful. If you're not familiar with Wallace and Gromit, a collection of "their" three short films is available and recommended. Lord and Park have a long term deal with Dreamworks SKG, but a full length W&G is at least two movies away, to follow a revamp of The Tortoise and the Hare.

More stuff: Mr. Fischer's own review of Chicken Run is here. He doesn't use our scale, but e-mailed me that he'd give it a $9.

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