Directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park
Staring the voices of Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson, and Julia Sawalha
British pluck, tenacity in the face of hopeless odds, a self-contained self-righteousness – all the skills they needed to survive WWII are replayed here, all in the fable of the a bunch of rubber chickens running around an animated Stalag 17. Feisty Ginger (Sawalha) spends her day attempting to spring all her fellow chicks from Tweedy’s egg farm. Over the fence, under the fence, slingshot thought the air, all miserable failures. One day, smooth talking Rocky Rooster (Gibson) sails over the fence and convinces Ginger and the girls he can fly. While evil Mrs. Tweedy (Richardson) orders up an automated chicken pot pie machine, Rocky exploits the sexually frustrated chickens. When we find out that chickens really CAN’T fly, Ginger builds an experimental aircraft, falls in love with Rocky, and everyone escapes to a beautiful hilltop. Ok, it’s a kids’ movie. It has animated rubber chickens. It’s cute.
Advancing on the Claymation foundation laid by Will Vinton three decades ago, Aardman Studios produced this stop action epic with vinyl cover armatures and a minimum of clay. The story is straightforward and uninspiring, but the chickens are goofy cute and the two rat salesmen provide a steady source of plucky sidekick humor. Ginger is stolid and determined in the British activist woman mold – dedicated to a cause she believes in, and not much fun to those around her. Rocky is the quintessential Yank – overpaid, over-sexed, and over here. The message is a watered down 1960’s Labour Party anti-capitalist, anti-technology, anti-vivisectionist thing, more interesting as a historical relic than a rallying cry. One gets the feeling that the chicken bodies, teeth and all, sold the movie, and the director picked up something in the discount bin at Plot Depot. It’s mildly entertaining, and they do tackle the technical problem of getting animated chickens to kiss. I wouldn’t have thought to do that.