Urban Cinefile
"My guessing completely wrongly about the acceptance of Showgirls, for example, proves pretty well that my taste and my sensibilities are quite different from an American's - "  -Paul Verhoeven
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



On Tweedy's Chicken Farm in the north of England, Ginger (Julia Sawalha) is sick of being cooped up and forced to lay eggs. Determined to lead her fellow chickens to freedom, she tries one escape plan after another - but nothing works. Then one day a new arrival crashlands in the barnyard: Rocky the Flying Rooster (Mel Gibson) a brash, cocksure American escapee from a nearby circus. In return for hiding him from the searchers, Ginger persuades Rocky to teach the chickens to fly. But progress is slow, and meanwhile Mrs Tweedy (Miranda Richardson) the farmer's wife, has come up for a new idea for making money: instead of selling eggs, she plans to market Mrs Tweedy's Chicken Pies...

"It's wicked all right! This irresistible stop-motion clay animation parody from Peter Lord and Nick Park is a total delight, with clay chickens and characters that assume a life of their own. Doing for chickens what Gary Larson did for cows, Lord and Park have managed to create a bizarre world of chicken angst in a concentration camp-like setting. The characters are very real and we become engrossed in their plight, their relationships, their hopes and dreams. The drama is played for real and superb casting allows the versatile and distinctive voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha and Miranda Richardson to bring the chickens and their keepers to life.

The story: the chickens on Mrs Tweedy's farm in the North of England are determined to escape to greener pastures, with head chick Ginger tired of being cooped up forced to lay eggs. All escape plans fail until one day cocky Rocky the Flying Rooster crashlands into the barnyard, giving Ginger new escape hopes. She persuades Rocky to teach the chickens to fly in return for hiding him. But inside the Tweedy farm, Mrs Tweedy has devised a new money making plan to sell Chicken Pies instead of eggs.

This is the kind of film that has so much to offer on DVD. Not only do we enjoy the feature itself under the best possible conditions (in widescreen format with crisp, clear sound), but we can also become totally involved in the filmmaking process. Engrossing for both the initiated and novice, here is the perfect opportunity to delve into a magical world of creative genius.

The two 'making of' documentaries canvas the two years of 'hatching' the project with interviews with the filmmakers, producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and the entire cast who voiced these adorable chickens. Mel Gibson confesses that while he never thought he resembled any kind of chicken, he was drawn to the project by the concept and the amusing material. Lord recalls that Gibson's classic rogue character from Maverick was exactly what they wanted Rocky to be "unreliable, shifty, dishonest but fundamentally good and utterly charming." We are privy to scenes with a good-natured Gibson falling about in the studio after attempting to sing 'I'm a wanderer'. Everyone looks as though they were having a ball! Tony Haygarth, who plays bumbling Mr Tweedy recalls the fun and most bizarre moments coming from all the cast having to grunt, groan and make startled sounds, after which all the actors exploded into hysterics. There's plenty of fascinating information including an insight into the extraordinary process required by stop-motion animation and what is required to complete one full second on the screen. State of the art cinematography and production design allowed the filmmakers to shoot as if it were live action.

But the piece de resistance is the directors' commentary, when Park and Lord with their English understatement and charm relive the whole filmmaking experience with contagious enthusiasm. Their main problem, says Park, was they had far too many ideas. Chicken Run is magical entertainment; it's witty, funny, ridiculous yet wonderfully believable. Check out the Panic Button on the interactive menus you'll glimpse an eggcentric bunch of chickens losing it!"
Louise Keller

Published April 12, 2001

Email this article

You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia

Andrew L. Urban INTERVIEWS
Nick Park and Peter Lord




VOICES: Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Miranda Richardson, John Sarian

DIRECTORS: Peter Lord, Nick Park

RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video

DVD RELEASE: April 4, 2001

Poultry in Motion Documentary
Hatching of Chicken Run Documentary
Theatrical Trailers (2)
TV spot
Director's Commentary
Cast & Crew Biographies
Subtitles: English & Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020