Chicken Little (2005)
"I think, 'Oh that [early] version'... Then I'm reconnected with what I'm thinking at the time. And you're thinking how that version would have turned out. If we had stuck with that instead of this. If we had pushed Eisner and said, It has to be a girl,' it could have been killed... With this, I wish I could see an alternate reality, 'what that would have been like.' That's mostly it."— Mark Dindal
"The movie did make me smile. It didn't make me laugh, and it didn't involve my emotions, or the higher regions of my intellect, for that matter. It's a perfectly acceptable feature cartoon for kids up to a certain age, but it doesn't have the universal appeal of some of the best recent animation."— Roger Ebert
Chicken Little is a 2005 American 3D computer-animated science fiction comedy film, produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and loosely based on the "Henny Penny" Anglo-Saxon fairy tale as well as the original fable of the same name. The 46th Disney animated feature film, it was directed by Mark Dindal from a screenplay by Steve Bencich, Ron J. Friedman, and Ron Anderson, based on a story by Mark Kennedy and Dindal. The film is dedicated to Disney artist and writer Joe Grant, who died before the film's release.
Chicken Little was animated in-house at Walt Disney Feature Animation's main headquarters in Burbank, California and released by Walt Disney Pictures on November 4, 2005, in Disney Digital 3-D (the first film to be released in this format) along with the standard 2D version. It is Disney's first fully computer-animated feature film, as Pixar's films were distributed, but not produced by Disney, and Dinosaur (2000) was a combination of live-action and computer animation which in turn was provided by division The Secret Lab. The film is also the last Disney animated film produced under the name Walt Disney Feature Animation before the studio was renamed Walt Disney Animation Studios, starting with Meet the Robinsons.
Young Chicken Little throws his small town into panic by claiming the sky is falling. Unable to find the piece of "sky" that hit him, he earns the town's scorn. A year later, outcast Little tries to redeem himself by joining the baseball team, helping to win a crucial game. Later that night he is hit on the head again and discovers that the "falling sky" is actually from a UFO. Now, Little must convince the skeptical town that an alien invasion is about to happen.
- To get this chicken out of the hen, the main problem with the movie is how mean-spirited its predictable story and the overall film is, with the conflict management being ridiculous: The townsfolk ridicule and hate Chicken Little just for a single mistake, even going as far as making an entire movie about it.
- On the topic of the townsfolk making an entire movie about Chicken Little just for a single mistake, the townsfolk actually making a movie out of the entire "sky is falling" incident is an incredibly ludicrous and idiotic idea which makes no sense whatsoever, since realistically, execution-wise, the concept of Chicken Little thinking that the sky is falling because he got hit by an acorn isn't complex enough to sustain a feature-length film, at least without any filler and padding.
- Executive meddling: The original storyline was to be about Chicken Little who was originally a girl (and originally voiced by Holly Hunter, who’s famous for Elastigirl from Disney's other movie, The Incredibles) suffering from paranoia who, as a result, caused several panic outbreaks in her hometown. In an attempt to reduce her anxiety, she went to a summer camp known as Camp Yes-You-Can where she met her friends who were the same as in the final product. Chicken Little and her friends then discovered that the sheep who ran the camp were wolves in disguise who were plotting to eat all of the students, Chicken must face her fears to become a hero, but also prove her dad she can make him proud. However, due to executive meddling by David Stainton and Michael Eisner, the storyline was rewritten to Chicken Little being a male to save his hometown from aliens and to cash in on the "Fractured Fairy Tale" trend popularized by Shrek, but failed poorly. The original storyline and concept sounded interesting, with the titular character dealing with their paranoia and anxiety (It does explain why they think the sky was falling when an acorn fell on their head.), and it would’ve worked instead of trying to cash-in said movie.
- There are several main problems with the characters:
- Chicken Little's widowed father, Buck Cluck, is very unlikable as he never supports nor protects his son enough and doesn’t even act he's his father; even though he realizes his mistake in the climax, it still does not make up for how uncaring he was to his son before — in fact, he seems to be more of a tolerable and realistic father who genuinely cared about his child and wants them to be a normal kid, in the aforementioned scrapped storyline and deleted scenes.
- Since Buck Cluck is very unlikable, Foxy Loxy, Goosey Loosey, and Mayor Turkey Lurkey (who is shown to be an incompetent mayor) are also very unlikeable characters as well.
- Fish Out Of Water, though likable, is a pointless comic relief character who exists purely to make blatantly unnecessary pop culture references, and even if he does something, any other supporting character of the film could easily hold that position and nothing would change.
- Runt of the Litter, though likable as well, is also an unfunny and pointless comic relief character who exists purely just for fat jokes by others and frantic screaming.
- The townspeople of Oakey Oaks are absolutely incredibly unlikable characters as they openly hate Chicken Little for some pointless and dumb reason, because of how he mistakes that the sky is falling for a little acorn. They also never apologized or are punished at all, even through they realized that Chicken Little was right. Just so they will take them out and nothing would be the same for the entire of the pointless movie.
- False Advertising:
- Despite being advertised frequently, appearing on the DVD case and posters (in which he took the place of Abby, a main character, and being one of the most likable characters, Morkubine Porcupine is a useless character who only says 3 words and is nothing more than just a marketing gimmick voiced by the director.
- On the posters, Chicken Little, Abby Mallard, Runt of the Litter and Morkubine Porcupine are wearing special agent outfits inspired by the movie Men in Black and Men in Black II, but they actually never do wear them in the animated movie.
- Aside of Morkubine Porcupine, the advertising is rather misleading. Chicken Little wears sunglasses and different clothes, which is suit, yet he rarely wears in the actual movie whatsoever.
- While not terrible, the CGI animation is mediocre at best, especially by Disney standards, even if it was Disney's first fully CGI film without Pixar's involvement, especially when compared to other computer animated films at the time like The Incredibles, Shrek 2, and Robots.
- Since this is Disney's very first CGI-animated movie without Pixar's involvement, the movie suffers from some continuity errors including:
- During the first alien scene, the aliens create some crop circles in the corn field. However, the field is unchanged in every other scene.
- When Chicken Little is holding Kirby after they and his father were zapped by the large spaceship above them, they reappear inside the spaceship. Buck is now holding Kirby instead of Chicken Little.
- Foxy dumps out a bag of acorns to trip up Chicken Little. When he falls, the acorns are all around him. However, when he gets back up, the acorns are now gone.
- When Chicken Little sings one of the lyrics in his cover of "We Are The Champions" onto a large spoon (pretending it was a microphone), the spoon's reflection is upright instead of being upside down like in real life.
- The background characters/citizens are noticeably reused; no other species of animals are seen such as cats, moose, wolves, lions, etc.
- The character designs are also pretty poor, such as Runt's mother, who has the same model as him, only larger with a few minor differences.
- Since this is Disney's very first CGI-animated movie without Pixar's involvement, the movie suffers from some continuity errors including:
- Extremely poor grasp of the source material: The original Disney short cartoon was a rendition of the classic fable fairy tale of the same name which told about the story of a little chick who thought the sky was falling for no reason and ends up eaten by a fox who invites him and the other fowl into his lair to seek shelter (which is pretty dark) as well as a downer ending. The film, however, is about Chicken Little mistaking an acorn for the sky and later finding out that the sky really is falling because of aliens. If anything, the film's story actually has more in common with The Boy Who Cried Wolf than Chicken Little, with Chicken Little's warnings about the aliens initially being disbelieved because of the false alarm he previously caused, heck, one trailer and deleted scene pointed that out. (With one of the reporters saying "Are you any relationship with the Boy Who Cried Wolf?!".)
- Before the movie started in theaters, there is a cringeworthy "Turn off your Phone" PSA with Chicken Little dancing.
- Very poorly executed and incredibly predictable story, as it uses science fiction elements that are out of place in the original story, as mentioned above.
- The movie has some noticeable plot holes, such as the aliens not noticing Kirby running around during their invasion of Oakley Oaks or when Chicken Little gets his big hit in the baseball game, by the time he heads for home, the game is tied. If he is called out, it wouldn't be the big tragedy it's played out to be, they would still have a chance to win in later innings.
- Despite good voicework and casting, it’s somehow questionable. Zach Braff, somehow makes Chicken Little sound a little older than John Dorian, the character who Braff was playing on Scrubs at the same time this movie was released. Though it kinda makes sense since the titular character is a teenager (13-15).
- Ironically, Braff was casted because he was said to have made the character sound like a junior high student.
- The humor is very below average, with bad fat jokes about Runt of the Litter or Buck Cluck, along with a few gross-out and mean-spirited humor.
- Too many overused pop-culture references that are placed at the wrong time, which are really blatant for a fractured fairy tale and out-of—place, such as a cameo of Indiana Jones in the theater during the opening (its ridiculous that despite showing a movie that has humans, the entire world is just filled with animals), Runt yelling "Darth Vader is Luke's Father?!" when they meet Kirby, Fish Out Of Water builds a skyscraper out of paper blocks and climbs it pretending he act like King Kong for no apparent reason, and when Abby says "It's like War of the Worlds out there!" in the climax.
- Despite having a decent score (One Little Slip, All I Know, and Shake Your Tail Feather) created by Disney (like many films that they made), they use pop culture-oriented songs (like #2, using pop-culture material for a fractured fairy tale film to cash in on Shrek) unlike most Disney films, two infamous examples being R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", which was used in the alien invasion scene and C & C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)", which was used in the dodgeball fight scene. This doesn't necessarily fit on each scenes, very out-of-place or just cringeworthy in the way.
- The event that kicks off the film's storyline doesn't make much sense. Yes, Chicken Little's claims sound very far-fetched, but he still gives a very specific description of the "sky piece" that he saw, which sounds absolutely nothing like an acorn. Yet everyone instantly believes it was an acorn when one happens to fall near him while he's describing it.
- Speaking of the "sky piece", Chicken Little says that the piece of the sky was shaped like a stop sign. Later, the panel appears in a hexagonal shape, and he still says it's shaped like a stop sign, which are commonly found in octagonal shapes.
- The trailers aren't even that good as one teaser parodies The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and they also spoil scenes for the movie, such as Chicken Little kissing Abby. Not only that, they showed the scenes that were lied for audiences. For example; this exaggerated trailer makes the film look like a humorous parody of the disaster movie genre, with the titular character and a group of goofy friends tasked with battling a thrilling and chaotic alien invasion. While the movie itself has an alien invasion plot, it's nowhere near as epic-looking at this trailer makes it to be.
- The tone of the film is just trying to be too serious, but ends up being way too harsh, playful, inconsistent and mean-spirited.
- The baseball tournament scene was honestly 15 minutes of pure filler that doesn’t contribute very well to the actual plot.
- Speaking of filler, there are too many odd gags throughout the film not given proper setup and, as a result, just sort of "happen."
- In one scene, a dog can be seen holding pushing a goat by his legs as he mows the dog's lawn with his teeth. While the Extreme Omni-Goat intention of the gag is clear, the way it's presented feels like the punchline to a joke that had no setup.
- During the Cold Open of the water tower tank barreling through town, it literally breaks the fourth wall by tearing through a movie theater screen showing the iconic scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark of Indiana Jones outrunning the boulder. Again, the gag is clear, but the fact that a world full of animated funny animals and absolutely no humans was screening a movie with live-action humans feels too out of place for it to make any sense and really only seems to exist for an obvious pop culture reference, as previously stated before.
- The movie doesn't provide its standard politically correct message. Of course, the best player on the baseball team is a Fox. Of course, a Goose beats up and humiliates the Chicken. And of course, the character with the most redeeming social value is physically unattractive (Abby Mallard).
- Terrible morals that gives you bad lessons for target audiences, such as attack and abuse the unpopular and praise the popular during the prepared for the dodgeball fight scenes.
- Mark Dindal makes for an okay director.
- Pretty good voice acting, such as Zach Braff as the titular character, even with the questionable casting choices.
- Despite the humor, there are a couple of funny moments here and there, such as Chicken Little accidentally drinking Fish's water during training, the long line of baby bunnies in the opening scene, the introduction of Runt of the Litter, Chicken Little screaming at the end of his "We Are The Champions", and Runt raging over a soda machine. It also has a hilarious intro which pokes fun at cliché animated film openings.
- The "What are you talking about?" exchange is quite funny.
- Decent soundtrack for the film, such as the cover for "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" sung by the entire cast over the end credits, "One Little Slip" which plays near the beginning in the scene in which the kids harass Chicken Little when he tries to catch up with the bus, "All I Know" by Five For Fighting is a pretty sad and emotional song, "Stir It Up" by Joss Stone and Patti LaBelle that's played during Chicken Little's training montage for the baseball game, "Shake Your Tail Feather" by The Cheetah Girls that's played during the credits sounds very catchy, and John Debney's score, which is heartwarming to hear.
- Although cringeworthy, Chicken Little’s dance in the PSA was kinda funny and pretty cute.
- There are some good messages and morals about believing in yourself and trying your best.
- Chicken Little, Abby Mallard, Runt of the Litter (depending on your view), and Fish (depending on your view) are at least tolerable and likable characters. The chemistry between Chicken Little and Abby is cute and heartwarming, too.
- Chicken Little himself is also sympathetic, relatable, and also adorable.
- Even though he's very unlikable, Turkey Lurkey somewhat funny at least.
- Buck Cluck, even though very unlikable, has a few decent moments, such as apologizing for not believing his son at the climax of the film and he is also a good fighter and baseball player.
- The CGI animation, despite how mediocre it looks, is passable at best.
- It also has a 2-D animation style to the 3-D animation whenever a character is shocked nor react to slapstick, which is quite creative.
- It has some heartwarming and emotional scenes, such as Kirby missing his parents, Abby, Runt, and Fish trying to cheer up Little, Buck's apology and reconcile with Little, and Chicken Little and Abby’s kiss (though it’s spoiled in one trailer).
- The film does have a decent start during the 'One Little Slip' sequence, where Chicken Little uses his ingenuity to get out of certain jams.
- The ending isn’t so bad, with a movie within the movie is pretty good to look at with Adam West voicing Ace.
- It would later have a video game spin-off with Adam West returning.
- Morkubine Porcupine, despite being completely useless, is one of the best characters in the film, his lines are somewhat funny and he is not a jerk to Chicken Little.
- The scrapped early storyline/concept and deleted scenes of the movie are much better than the final product, as they were less mean-spirited, heartwarming, sad, interesting, and also kinda dark (such as the original opening and the wolves plotting to eat the students in the camp in the scrapped storyline).
- The scenes which involves Chicken Little that flying using soda bottles are a nice trademark.
Chicken Little received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics and audiences who praised the 3D animation, visuals, soundtrack, and voice acting but criticized the story, inconsistent tone, humor, and the characters and is considered (maybe) by many to be one of the worst or weakest animated movies created by Disney. In particular, it was criticized for its mean-spirited nature, Buck’s poor parenting, executive meddling of the story, as well as the film trying too hard to compete with Dreamworks' Shrek. Rotten Tomatoes, reports that 36% of 163 surveyed critics gave positive reviews; the average score is 5.4/10. The critical consensus states: "Disney expends more effort in the technical presentation than in crafting an original storyline.". Metacritic, gave the film an average score of 48 based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
IMDb gave it a 5.7/10, while Letterboxd earned the score of 2.6/5.
On the syndicated television program Ebert & Roeper, critics Richard Roeper and Roger Ebert gave the film "Two Thumbs Down" with the former saying "I don't care whether the film is 2-D, 3-D, CGI, or hand-drawn, it all goes back to the story."
Phantomstrider ranked it #1 on his video, "Top 10 Worst Disney Movies" and considered the film the absolute worst Disney film of all time.
In his print review featured in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert stated the problem was the story and wrote, "As a general rule, if a movie is not about baseball or space aliens, and you have to use them, anyway, you should have started with a better premise." Ebert concluded his review with, "The movie did make me smile. It didn't make me laugh, and it didn't involve my emotions, or the higher regions of my intellect, for that matter. It's a perfectly acceptable feature cartoon for kids up to a certain age, but it doesn't have the universal appeal of some of the best recent animation."
Because of the negative reception to the film, Mark Dindal was dissatisfied with the final product and the rejection of the original plot still haunts him to this very day. See the tagline above.
Chicken Little opened at #1 with $40,049,778, The total domestic gross was $135,386,665,in foreign countries, it made $179,046,172, Overall, the film grossed $314,432,837 worldwide against its $150m budget.
This reversed the slump that the company had been facing since 2000, during which time it released several films that underperformed, most notably Fantasia 2000 (1999), Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), Treasure Planet (2002), Brother Bear (2003) and Home on the Range (2004). However, those films received better critical reception (except Home on the Range).
- This is Disney's first fully CGI-animated film without Pixar because it’s made by Walt Disney Animation Studios.
- This is one of the film’s by Disney that doesn’t have a villain nor an antagonist.
- At the time of the release of Chicken Little, the co-production deal between Disney and Pixar was set to expire with the release of Cars in 2006. The result of the contentious negotiations between Disney and Pixar was viewed to depend heavily on how Chicken Little performed at the box office. If successful, the film would have given Disney leverage in its negotiations for a new contract to distribute Pixar's films. A failure would have allowed Pixar to argue that Disney could not produce CGI films.
- The film's box office assisted in getting Disney to buy Pixar in 2006 and Circle 7 Animation's sequels have been officially cancelled, resulting the studio being shut down.
- The German title of the movie is Himmel und Huhn, which means "Sky and Chicken".
- The movie was originally going to get a sequel which was going to be called Chicken Little 2: The Ugly Duckling Story and was going to be released in 2010, but it was canceled when John Lasseter became CEO of Walt Disney Animation Studios.
- Chicken Little appeared as a summon character in the highly-successful Kingdom Hearts II which came out about a month later in Japan and in North America four months later after the film's release.
- David Spade, Michael J. Fox, and Matthew Broderick were considered for the role of Chicken Little.
- Editor Dan Molina performed the "voice" of Fish Out of Water by vocalizing through a tube into a water cooler tank full of water.
- Holly Hunter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jodie Foster, Geena Davis, and Madonna were considered for Abby Mallard.
- As of 2022, the movie started spawning memes, mostly featuring Runt and Buck Cluck.
- Likewise, there is a fake image of an edit of Buck Cluck's Wiki page talking about how Buck is a complete monster who enjoys torturing his son and has committed several crimes, including killing his wife, due to how many people calling Buck Cluck the worst father in cinematic history.
- There are 250,000 feathers on Chicken Little.
- During the opening sequence, when the water tower ball crushes three cars, their horns sound off the M-O-U-S-E portion of The Mickey Mouse Club (1955) theme.
- It was the last Disney animated theatrical movie to be released on VHS.
- The movie has not one but two tie-in games, with the first one that follows the events from the movie (Microsoft Windows, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox) and the second one that's based on the movie within the movie (PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, Wii, and Microsoft Windows).
- The technical team built a digital tool called "Chicken Wire", which is a geometric wire-frame model of the characters that the animators could squash, stretch, and smear. They wanted to get a 2-D animation style in 3-D animation.
- The last Disney animated film to be released before John Lasseter was made Chief Creative Officer of Disney Animation. It is also the last without Lasseter's involvement until Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) released 16 years later.
- Dedicated to the memory of Joe Grant, who died during production before the film was even released.
- This was also Walt Disney Animation Studios' last film he worked on. As were Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005) and Sony Animation's first film Open Season (2006), where he designed characters on that film.
- The film was supposed to have a direct-to-DVD sequel by DisneyToon Animation Studios titled "Chicken Little 2: The Ugly Duckling Story", the plot would have Chicken Little finds himself in the midst of a love triangle. On one side, is his childhood sweetheart, Abby “Ugly Duckling” Mallard. On the other side, is the very attractive newcomer, Raffaela, the French sheep. Abby’s at a tremendous disadvantage here, so she goes to great lengths to give herself a makeover. It’s unknown if it was gonna be CGI-animated like the Tinker Bell film series nor hand-drawn like most Disney Direct-to-DVD sequels.
- There were rumors that this film was gonna have an animated series.
- Before this movie came into existence, there was another film that was going to be made called My Peoples (also known as Once in a Blue Moon, Elgin's Peoples, Angel and Her No Good Sister and A Few Good Ghosts). It would have taken place in the 1940s in Texas where it would have told the story of two family rivals called the Harpers and the McGees who had two children that are in love with each other named Elgin and Rose. Elgin created dolls from various household objects including an angel, Abraham Lincoln, a Cherokee, a blues musician, etc. Wishing that Elgin would forget about his daughter, Old Man McGee concocted a batch of his late mother's "Blue Moon Brew", intending to use it to erase Elgin's memory. However, the potion made the dolls come to life. The film would have combined hand drawn animation with CGI with the dolls being animated in CGI and the backgrounds as well as the human characters being hand drawn. It was cancelled in favor of Chicken Little.
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