(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Chicken Little. The song "One Little Slip" by the Barenaked Ladies plays throughout)
Doug (vo): Chicken Little was one of the first CG animated films that Disney did without Pixar's help, and, boy, does it show. This is a film that tries all sorts of different visual humor and verbal humor and technical humor, all sorts of different kinds of humor, and very few of them ever hit the mark. I admire it for its ambition, but, man, when this film misses, it really misses, right down to the premise, which, hey, maybe we should take a look at.
Doug (vo): In a neighborhood filled with walking, talking animals, Chicken Little swears he sees something in the sky: the sky itself apparently falling. But when they discover it's just a mistake, Chicken Little is humiliated, along with his father, who constantly tries to distance himself from his son, despite the fact that the son only wants his respect and love. Outcasted, he finds another group of friends that also don't seem to be very popular, Runt of the Litter, the Ugly Duckling*, and Fish Out of Water. Yes, that's literally their names and...eh, actually, I think it's kind of funny. Despite the fact that everybody thinks he's a loser, including his father, Chicken Little tries out for the baseball team and actually manages to win a game. Suddenly, he's the town hero and he once again has his father's attention, but that may all change when he discovers an alien attack. Mutant creatures from outer space apparently are infiltrating Earth's atmosphere by disguising themselves, what else, as the sky. Chicken Little, of course, comes across it, but is afraid to let anybody know because it might ruin his popularity. Will he do the right thing and yet somehow win his father's love in the end? Does this movie try way too hard way too often? The answer to both is yes.
- Actually, her name is Abby Mallard.
Doug (vo): On the one hand, I admire the film for how much it's throwing at us. I mean, to begin with, this is a weird premise. Obviously, it's based on the fable, but to turn it into an everyday modern world with animals running everywhere and trying to make them survive in this environment, it's very odd. And to the movie's credit, it knows that and tries to have fun with it. But a lot of the jokes it tries to throw at us are really confused.
[Several scenes describing the about-to-be-mentioned jokes are shown]
Doug (vo): For example, there's a scene where you see a dog mowing the lawn with his neighbor who's a sheep, and literally uses the sheep to cut the lawn. See, there's an idea for a joke there, it's just not fully realized yet. Maybe if the dog was using his lawnmower, it broke down, and then he asked his neighbor for help. That would be completing the joke, at least giving the world some realm of existing. But then there's weird things like they'll suddenly cut to a real clip of "Indiana Jones". It's like they're watching a human being. Do they know what human beings are in this world? I might be thinking too hard about it, except that they just keep throwing confusing jokes like this at us. There's another weird joke where the Fish pulls a bunch of cards and pages out of the magazine and builds a giant building out of it and acts like he's King Kong. [Beat] Why? I just straight-up don't even get this one. The humor is fast and tries to throw every opportunity at a joke it can, but I really don't know if they thought them through before they actually decided to put them in.
[Many of the film's characters, mainly the side characters, are shown]
Doug (vo): But, okay, if jokes are bad, that's one thing. How are the characters? Strangely enough, I really find myself hating most of them. I mean, the loser gang is just sort of your typical loser gang, nothing really new, but the rest of the town, and especially the father, are just too damn mean in this film. I know that sounds weird because we come from environments like The Simpsons and South Park where they have all sorts of mean people do stupid things, but something about this world seems so constantly harsh and just never giving a break to the main character, except when he does something that indulges their selfish egos, like win a ball game. The dad, especially, I think is really despicably unlikeable. The stuff he says to this kid is not only bad, but, God, I think it would scar most kids. It's not just lack of support, it's trying as hard as he can to have nothing to do with his child. And, yeah, I know he's supposed to learn his lesson in the end and he obviously does, but you're supposed to kind of want this guy to get back together with his son, and in the end, I really don't. I thought he was just horrible.
[The aliens seen in the film are shown]
Doug (vo): I think the only thing I really remember sticking out in this film is the design of the aliens, which, I have to admit, I just never saw an alien design like this before. Most aliens look the same, but these designs are pretty damn original. So I'll give it that.
Doug (vo): As for the rest of it? Not only do I think it's not very funny, but I don't think it's very developed, I don't think it's very focused in the jokes, and like I said before, it's just kind of mean-spirited. I know some people show it to their kids, and I don't know if I'd say it's so bad, like, it would scar kids or anything, but I definitely wouldn't let my kids see it. I mean, I wouldn't boycott it or anything, but at the same time, I'd probably try to create as much distance from it as, well, the father does with his son. I'm sure the film had good intentions and that it wanted to get across some good messages, but in the end, it's just too unpleasant for me. I know there's definitely some people out there who like it, but for me, I would give it a pass.
[The scene where Chicken Little and his father get abducted by the aliens is shown]