Steve’s Wonderful Reviews of Disney: Chicken Little

Chicken Little

Release Date: October 30th, 2005 (released nationwide November 4th)

Inspiration: The folk tale of Henny Penny

Budget: $150 million

Domestic Gross: $135.4 million

Worldwide Gross: $314.4 million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%

IMDB Score: 5.7/10

Storyline (per IMDB): Ridiculed by the animal inhabitants of the peaceful Oakey Oaks community for his absurd notion that the sky is falling, the well-meaning young chicken, Chicken Little, promises to prove everyone wrong. However, one year later, there’s still nothing on the horizon to justify Little’s fears, when, out of the blue, the humiliated boy finally stumbles upon a real piece of evidence. Is Chicken Little and his loyal band of outcasts really on to something big this time?

Pre-Watching Thoughts: We continue on through the 2000s with our next film that is once again based on a classic tale and given a modern-day twist. This one is interesting in that it reversed the fortunes of Disney in terms of box office take as its opening weekend matched the Lion King for the highest opening weekend in Disney history amazingly enough. However, it was also the worst-reviewed film to this point and after the run we’ve been on, needless to say my expectations are not great going in.

Voice Cast: We continue to have the trend of having a predominately new cast in each film with only a handful of returning actors, and we take it a step further as only two actors from a previous film returns as Patrick Warburton makes a return to voice the alien cop and also we have Mark Walton who voices Goosey Loosey. We now move onto the newcomers as we start off with Zach Braff who voices Chicken Little as he was getting his career really going, and then we have Joan Cusack who voices Abby though she would be better remembered for voicing Jessie in the Toy Story franchise. We then have Steve Zahn who voices Runt as he was hitting his stride with his career at this point, and then we have Garry Marshall who voices Buck as he was hitting the twilight of his career. Next, we have Amy Sedaris who voices Foxy Loxy as she was also starting to hit her stride with her career, and then we have Don Knotts who voices Turkey Lurkey in what would be his second-to-last role as he sadly passed away a year later. We then have the trio of Sean Elmore, Matthew Josten, and Evan Dunn who voice Kirby at different points in the film, and then we have Fred Willard who voices Melvin the alien as he was hitting the peak of his career at this point. Next, we have Catherine O’Hara who voices Tina the alien in a minor role and then we have Mark Dindal who voices both Morkubine Porcupine and the Coach in a dual role. We then have screen legend Patrick Stewart who voices Mr. Woolensworth in a minor role and then we have Wallace Shawn who voices Principle Fetchit in a minor role, and finally we have Adam West who voices Ace in the movie and Harry Shearer as the dog announcer in minor roles. It is interesting that we have a few pretty big names in the film yet they were relegated to minor roles, and they could’ve been used in a much bigger capacity though I do get it that they wanted to put the spotlight on others and keep the bigger names somewhat in the background.

Hero/Prince: It is now time to talk about our next hero and honestly, he might be the smallest hero to this point though as many will say it’s not about the size of one’s body, but rather the size of one’s heart. This holds true with our hero here and that is Chicken Little who is first seen in a panic trying to warn everyone that the sky is falling, but he can’t find the right piece and he is ridiculed by the town while his own father doesn’t support him. A year later, he is suffering from bad luck and decides to join the baseball team so his father can be proud of him, and after being on the bench the whole season he finally comes up to bat during the pennant and hits a home run to win the championship for the team. He is praised by the town and accepted by his father until a piece of the sky falls on him and he has PTSD from last time, and with his friends they learn that the piece belongs to a UFO hovering over their town. When the aliens chase them, he rallies the town only for the UFO to disappear and the town again ridicules him while his father again turns away, and when the aliens appear to retrieve one of the aliens left on Earth he decides to save the town by returning the alien. He makes amends with his father and they reach the mothership where they are beamed aboard and they return the alien, and the aliens leave Earth and Chicken Little is hailed as a hero. Chicken Little is a unique character in that he longs to be accepted especially after he becomes the butt of jokes due to his belief of the sky falling, and he does what he can including joining the baseball team where he has a bit of lucky by helping them win. After the aliens arrive, he finally stands up for himself and is able to reconcile with his father before saving the town and becoming a hero, and while he is not the most memorable hero in the Disney canon he is still a fine hero to the film and proves that heroes can come in any size.

Princess: N/A

Villain: N/A

Other Characters: Given that we have no princess or villain in this film, this has to be one of the first time where all of the remaining characters are in this category though there were some important ones to talk about. First, we have Chicken Little’s best friend Abby who tries to convince to talk to his father about their issues, and she helps him in figuring out what the mysterious panel is and helps him when the aliens arrive. After Chicken Little makes up with his father, he tells Abby how he really feels about her and kisses her which causes her to swoon, and she eventually becomes his new girlfriend. We then have Runt of the Little who is a giant pig and a friend to Chicken Little and Abby, and he helps Chicken Little train to join the baseball team and he helps his friends when they find the UFO though he is very afraid. When the aliens arrive, he helps Chicken Little get to the town hall and after the aliens leave, he courts Foxy who has been reverted into a typical girl thanks to the aliens. Next, we have Fish out of Water who is friends with Chicken Little, Abby, and Runt as he helps them when they find the UFO, and he also helps them when they have to get to City Hall to return the baby alien. We then have Buck “Ace” Cluck who is Chicken Little’s father and he is left embarrassed when Chicken Little claims the sky is falling, and after Chicken Little wins the baseball game and the championship he earns his father’s respect back. After Chicken Little tries to tell the town about the aliens, Buck says he doesn’t believe him and is once again embarrassed by him which leads Chicken Little to prove him wrong, and he confronts his father in the theater as Buck says that he’s always loved his son and they reconcile as they successfully return the baby alien. Next, we have Foxy Loxy who is the star baseball player and is a bully to Chicken Little and his friends, and she dominates during the season though she is upstaged by Chicken Little who wins the pennant for the team. She continues to bully them until she is abducted by the aliens and when she is returned to Earth, her mind is wiped and she becomes a normal girl as Runt starts courting her. We then have other members of the town such as Goosey Loosey who is Foxy’s best friend, Morkubine Porcupine who is the cool kid of the school, the mayor of the town Turkey Lurkey, the faculty of the school including Mr. Woolensworth, the coach of the baseball team and Principal Fetchit, and the other townspeople who ridicule Chicken Little only to declare him a hero when he saves the town. We then have the aliens that arrive on Earth to sample some of the town’s acorns though one of the baby aliens is left behind, and they return to retrieve him which is misinterpreted as an invasion and Chicken Little returns the baby as the aliens restore the town and make peace with everyone. While the majority of the film is mainly focused on Chicken Little which makes sense since he is the main focus of the story, these other characters worked well to move the story along and help Chicken Little on his journey.

Songs: N/A

Plot: Anyone who had been in elementary school was more than likely familiar with the story of Chicken Little or as it was called in other places of the world, “Henny Penny” with the simple premises being the main character thinking that the sky was falling. Disney had actually already done a short version of the story back in 1943 that was basically a propaganda and anti-Nazi short, and 62 years later Disney decides to do another adaptation of the story though this one is very different. In this version, Chicken Little believes the sky is falling though the town doesn’t believe him and he is ridiculed while his father doesn’t support him, and a year later he continues to be the joke of the town as his friends try to convince him to talk to his father. Instead, he joins the baseball team and manages to win the pennant which earns him the town’s love as well as his father’s, but then another piece of the “sky” falls onto his head and he learns it is a panel that can camouflage itself. The panel returns to the sky and Chicken Little along with his friends follow it to a hidden UFO, and they escape from a pair of aliens as Chicken Little rallies the town though the UFO leaves before they get there. The town and his father refuse to believe him until the aliens return after they realize that they left their baby behind, and with the help of his father and friends Chicken Little retrieves the baby and returns it to the aliens who leave without incident and Chicken Little is hailed as a hero. Anytime that you have to take a short story and make it into a 90-minute film, you are going to have a challenge to make it interesting while staying somewhat true to the story and considering some of the films from this decade, this certainly wasn’t the worst though to be fair it also wasn’t one of the best.

Random Watching Thoughts: We get another custom logo for the intro of the film; We get some fun poked at with Disney between the “Once Upon a Time” intro, the opening scene for “The Lion King”, and the storybook beginning; We waste no time as Chicken Little is causing a stir in the town; How was that rabbit able to fit all those bunnies into that small carriage?; That dog took the time to bury his bone; Seems like they are just causing more chaos with the water tower being knocked over and destroying the town; We actually get a clip from “Raiders from the Lost Ark” when the tower rolls through the theater; If a piece that’s shaped like a STOP sign hit him on the head, you would think he would be in a lot more pain; A big acorn level fluh?; Crazy Little Chicken: The Movie; They really milked Chicken Little’s humiliation as much as they could; Oakey Oaks: The Best Acorns in the Universe; So they use a chameleon like a traffic light; That goose is not doing good by his kind if he keeps running into that glass like that; Buck can live with the billboards and the posters, but it’s all over with the bumper stickers; Chicken Little says that today is a new day yet he misses the bus, Foxy causes him to slip on acorns, runs into a bull; gets stuck on gum, loses his shorts, ends up in front of the cheerleaders, and gets locked in his locker; If Chicken Little is that small, why is his locker so high up?; Mutton Class; Mr. Woolensworth says he won’t tolerate rudeness in his class yet he nearly calls Abby “ugly”; That’s real polite of the coach to split the kids into “popular” and “unpopular” teams; Fish is able to avoid the balls with ease yet Runt gets pummeled; I feel like Abby making a straight-to-video reference is a jab at Disney as they were knee-deep in straight-to-video films at this time; Chicken Little and Abby are able to have a full conversation while avoiding the balls; The coach leaves so all the students quickly pull out their phones, and this is clearly 2005 since all the phones are flip phones; Abby tells Chicken Little all he needs to do is talk to his father yet Chicken Little wants to solve the problem with complex plans; Fish reenacting the final scene in “King Kong” right down to Runt saying the iconic line “Twas beauty that killed the beast”; Foxy doesn’t even get her hands dirty as she has Goosey do all the work; Again, Chicken Little trying to fix the problems with complex solutions like joining the baseball team; Buck is really out of the loop if he thinks teens are into stamp collecting; You can feel for Chicken Little as he just wants support from his father yet he won’t give it to him; The baseball team is filled with various animals that had to have a last name that rhymes with their first name; Everyone gets a baseball glove and Chicken Little gets a mitten; Baseball for Dummies; Chicken Little’s barbells are a pair of doughnuts; We get another montage sequence with the baseball season going into the pennant; Spud Valley Taters; So baseball is not only about winning, but gloating about it afterwards; So Turkey Lurkey has his own signs to tell him what to do; Weep Hopelessly; The other team is so confident that they will win the outfielders decide to slack off; Distance Yourself; Switch Loyalty; Follow the Crowd; Ah yes, the old tip-the-cow play that is common in baseball; They thought for sure that he was out yet we get the reveal that he was on the base, so he was safe; They can’t call it Gatorade so they refer to it as a sticky drink; Of all the times to talk to his father, this would’ve been the best time; Again, that’s a big chunk that fell on him yet he hardly feels any pain; He shoves the piece under his sheet to his left yet it somehow moves over to his right; Of all the songs they could’ve picked for karaoke, they had to pick “Wannabe”; At least Runt can admit that he’s a flip-flopper; All they had to do was push a button and the piece could reset back into its place in the sky; So is the entire sky basically an illusion and how long has it been like this?; You would think the aliens would understand why everyone would think they are invading given how they appear to everyone; Runt must’ve seen the movie “Alien” too many times; Runt is ready to give up but he still wants ammo, water, and chips; So Runt’s way to calm down is to sing “Stayin’ Alive”; Now Runt needs two bags to calm himself down; Again, if you don’t want to give off the impression that you are invading, the aliens shouldn’t have marked off the planets they visited with a red “x”; So Runt was able to get into the ship with no issues yet he can’t get out; They use the blades to look for Chicken Little and his friends yet all they end up doing is making crop circles; Even in animated films, the vending machines have to be picky about crumpled up bills with bent corners; It makes sense that Chicken Little would hesitate ringing the bell as he has flashbacks to what happened last time; Of course, every alien has some weakness and these ones hate when bells ring; They all had to stop because they found a penny on the ground; Chickens Gone Wild; Buck goes with the mob instead of his son; “You have hate mail”; So Fish can somehow speak fluent alien; So there was a fake sky used by the aliens to cover up the real sky; Goosey thinks twice about attacking the aliens after Foxy gets zapped; Chicken Little and Kirby literally just met and they manage to pull off a complex handshake; Abby wants them to deal with the aliens yet Chicken Little takes this time to settle his issues with Buck; Chicken Little is afraid of molting simply because he doesn’t want to be bald; I do wish we could learn what happened to Chicken Little’s mom to get more of a backstory as to why he and Buck have their issues; Kirby quickly attached himself to Buck after he and Chicken Little reconciled; Abby is now lovestruck for the rest of the film in essence; Kirby gets so frustrated because Buck doesn’t know what he wants; Chicken Little makes the plan seem so simple and Buck is clearly worried yet goes along with it; Runt doesn’t want to do it yet ultimately does so while singing “I Will Survive”; Of course the elevator is out and they would have to climb up the stairs; Buck is so happy he fought off the aliens only for him and Chicken Little to get zapped; Melvin doing his best Wizard of Oz impression; Intergalactic Law 90210; At least the aliens were kind enough to return everything back to normal; Even the aliens know that Oakey Oaks has the best acorns in the universe; Foxy went from being a tomboy to a normal girl; Melvin has a Mickey Mouse watch with 3 eyes, but Mickey with 3 eyes doesn’t work for me; Tina makes an offshoot comment about one of the panels hitting someone on the head not knowing it happened twice to Chicken Little; Chicken Little: The True Story; Cosmopoultry magazine; This film was clearly made in Hollywood given how many liberties take took with Chicken Little and his friends; I believe this is the first time where we have characters sing a song and dance during the end credits.

Overall Thoughts: Overall, this film was not that good of a film though it was a slight improvement from the previous film which isn’t saying much given how bad that film was. It was pretty interesting that this film had as big of a opening weekend that it did and was the first real success for Disney this decade, but again the bar had been so low that it wasn’t too much to be thankful for. This last decade has been a tough time for Disney as their animated films were flopping and other companies like Pixar and Dreamworks were really gaining some steam, and we will see how Disney can recover as the decade starts to come to an end. As for this film, it is not a good film and one of the worst films in the Disney canon though it is not the absolute worst.

Final Grade: 3.5/10