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Chicken Run (2000)
There are several two-word phrases that strike fear into the heart
of film critics, among them: "Pauly Shore," "Potemkin remake," and
"Eszterhas musical". "Family film" is also high on the list, given
that most movies billed as "something the whole family can enjoy" are usually
dumbed-down, lowest common denominator efforts. Chicken Run is a welcome
exception. It's smart and charming, a family film in the best sense - a multi-layered
feast where all ages will find much to enjoy. Nick Park has already won three Oscars for
his short animated films Creature Comforts, The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave, the latter two starring the Wallace
and Gromit characters. Here he teams with co-director/producer Peter Lord and expands his
Plasticine world into an 85-minute feature filled with artistry and wonder.
The hens at the veddy British and foreboding Tweedy's Egg Farm are in a bind if they dont produce eggs, they end up as dinner. Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha) is determined to break out, but so far all her attempts have met with failure. The situation becomes even more bleak at their concentration camp-like compound when Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson) decides to take her business in a new direction. She's bought a Rube Goldberg-ian machine that inhales chickens at one end, and spits out chicken pies on the other. Enter Rocky (Mel Gibson), a brash Yank who literally drops in from above - he's a famous flying rooster, escaped from a circus, and calls himself "The Lone Free Ranger". He soon has most of Tweedy's flock enthralled with his promise to teach them all to fly, so that they can escape the clutches of the perilous pie press.