“I thought you were teaching us how to fly”: ‘Chicken Run’ Review

Posted in The Screening Room by - July 14, 2017
“I thought you were teaching us how to fly”: ‘Chicken Run’ Review

“From the creative and awesome minds behind Wallace and Gromit, Aardman once again delivers their delightful claymation charm with Chicken Run, a truly hilarious and heartwarming prison escape film.

While caper comedies have been a great staple of the thriller genre, with classics ranging from Escape from Alcatraz to the signature classic The Great Escape, Chicken Run takes some of the best elements of those and melds them into a wonderfully clever story about chickens and their desperate fight for survival against a tyrannical and evil leader, the diabolical Mrs. Tweedy.

The story involved a group of English chickens led by the brave and determined Ginger, who desires to escape the harsh life of the English farm. But when multiple attempts to escape lead nowhere, Ginger gets the help she needs from an American flying rooster named Rocky Rhodes. Ginger sees this chance encounter as their ticket out of them farm: if Rocky agrees to teach the chickens how to fly, then they’ll protect him from the circus crew looking for him.

Much like their classic Wallace and Gromit shorts, Aardman’s wonderful clay animation is beautiful to look at; reminiscent of stop motion but with great clay figurines that have a very specific and wonderful texture all around. Chicken Run, their first feature length film, manages to not only be hugely entertaining as a caper con comedy but also as a smart prison escape film. One of the coolest aspects about Chicken Run, and the script was written by Karey Kirkpatrick is that while the promotional material and the audience expectations assume that Rocky will be the hero of the story it’s not, it’s Ginger, and this is without a doubt her film. As the leader of the hens, she not only inspires them to dream of life other than just waiting to be killed by Mrs. Tweedy but she also encourages them to have faith and dare to be something more; to aspire to dream of this hopeful place called paradise where they can be free. Voiced by Julia Sawalha, Ginger is a great female character in the realm of animated films; like all great leader figures she has her moments of doubt, but that never stops her from becoming more and more determined to stop Mrs. Tweedy and lead her group of hens to sovereignty.

Like all great prison escape movies, you can’t have a great hero that you can’t help but root for if you don’t have a great warden and while Mrs. Tweedy is not a warden, but a farmer, she is an amazing villain. Driven by her pursuit to desire more money to expand her farm and the fact that she’s the absolute leader of the farm, basically pushing Mr. Tweedy to do security work, she’s the villainous figure who is in complete charge of the farm and will do anything at all to gets what she wants.

Chicken Run remains not only a triumph of claymation, but it’s also a great comedic thriller that can stand on its own as a great prison escape film. Smart, funny and full of heart as well as a great sweeping score by John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams, Chicken Run is a great animated film that doesn’t get mentioned enough but deserves all the acclaim that its gotten over the years since its release. 

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He is an avid movie fan and loves to write about movies perhaps a little too much. He also considers Casino Royale to be the best James Bond film ever made and he’s ready to defend at any moment.

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