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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mark Dindal
Cast:
Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, Don Knotts, Patrick Stewart, Amy Sedaris, Steve Zahn, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard
Writing Credits:
Robert L. Baird (additional story material), Steve Bencich, Ron Friedman, Dan Gerson (additional story material)

Tagline:
The End Is Near.

Synopsis:
Experience a fantastic world of breathtaking action in Disney's hilarious new movie Chicken Little. It's "the perfect family film," raves Scott Mantz of "Access Hollywood".

When the sky really is falling and sanity has flown the coop, who will rise to save the day? Together with his hysterical band of misfit friends, Chicken Little must hatch a plan to save the planet from alien invasion and prove that the world's biggest hero is a little chicken. Overflowing with incredible music and bursting with exciting bonus features, including alternate openings, an exclusive "making of" featurette, games, and much more, this sensational DVD is truly something to cluck about.

Box Office:
Budget
$60 million.
Opening Weekend
$40.049 million on 3654 screens.
Domestic Gross
$134.637 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 81 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 3/21/2006

Bonus:
• Four Deleted Scenes
• Two Music Videos
• “One Little Slip” Karaoke
• “One Little Slip” Sing-A-Long
• “Where’s Fish?” Trivia Game
• “Hatching Chicken Little: The Making of the Movie” Documentary
• Sneak Peeks


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Chicken Little (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 10, 2006)

Disney first adapted the “Chicken Little” story back in 1943. They turned it into a short that reflected the atmosphere of the era. It acted to warn against “loose lips” during World War II. Despite that theme, it remains enjoyable and entertaining to modern audiences.

It also was short and concise, unlike Disney’s 2005 feature film rendition of Chicken Little. This one takes the basic story and greatly expands on it. In the 2005 version, Chicken Little (voiced by Zach Braff) causes mayhem in the town of Oakey Oaks when he alerts the citizens that the sky is falling. This appears to be a false alarm, and Chicken becomes the butt of many jokes.

This trend continues even after a year, as we learn when we rejoin Chicken at that time. His dad Buck Cluck (Garry Marshall) feels humiliated by this treatment and wants Chicken to get it behind them. Chicken is determined to find a way to redeem himself with his pop. Chicken’s pal Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack) thinks they need to chat and find closure, but he prefers a more action-oriented measure.

Since Buck was a star athlete in his youth, Chicken decides to try to stand out at baseball. His dad discourages him due to the kid’s diminutive size, but Chicken insists. He rides the bench all season but finally gets a shot at bat during the team’s championship game. Against all odds, Chicken hits a home run to seal the victory and he becomes a hero.

All seems well with Chicken and his pop, but matters quickly go downhill when the sky starts to fall again. A strange electronic tile that can mimic any environment lands in Chicken’s bedroom. His pal Fish Out of Water (Dan Molina) ends up flying back to an alien ship on it, so Chicken, Abby and Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn) try to save him. There they encounter vicious space monsters who apparently try to kill them. When a lil’ alien baby gets left behind, an invasion occurs, and only Chicken Little knows what to do about it.

Chicken Little provides the sight of Disney trying too hard. Over the last few years, they saw other studios encroach on their territory. Their traditional animation mostly tanked at the box office while others put out computer-generated efforts that raked in the big bucks. Chicken Little represents their effort to compete with those works, and it comes across with more than a slight sense of desperation.

Back in the day, Disney made animated movies that were special. I don’t just mean that classics that came out while Walt still walked the earth. All through the Nineties they released consistently fine flicks that had a certain spark and heart the works of their competitors lacked.

That charge slipped away in the 21st century. They still created some fun flicks, but they often didn’t connect with audiences while movies like Shrek and others made all the money. Chicken Little puts Disney in the unfortunate position of playing catch up, and they don’t do so particularly well.

Don’t take this to mean that Chicken Little offers an unpleasant viewing experience. It provides a moderately entertaining piece of work and doesn’t cause the audience to squirm while it runs. There’s enough decent humor and action to sustain it through its 81 minutes.

But shouldn’t a Disney flick be more than just passable entertainment? That puts Chicken Little in the same class as efforts like Madagascar and Ice Age. There’s nothing overtly wrong with these movies, but they lack the spirit and charm to make them anything other than mediocre.

Does Chicken Little ever threaten to become memorable? Nope. The story runs too long, as it really stretches to make the basic “sky is falling” plot into a feature-length effort. Of course, it completely abandons the moral of the original fable. Instead, it prefers a touchy-feely theme about connections between fathers and sons. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but the plot bears an only tangential connection to the source material. The two match so infrequently that I’m not even sure why they bothered to develop this story as Chicken Little; it would’ve worked in many other settings as well.

Voice acting? Perfectly competent. Animation? A little overdone and hyper, but completely adequate. Music? Peppy and lively without anything to make it stand out from a million other animated flicks. Chicken Little? A pedestrian piece of work that provides moderate entertainment and nothing more.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C-

Chicken Little appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While mostly strong, the transfer wasn’t quite as perfect as I expect from Disney’s animated films.

On the positive side, the picture came totally free from source defects, as it consistently looked clean. Colors seemed very good as well. The movie featured a gentle pastel palette that looked appropriately concise and distinctive. Blacks were deep and rich.

The minor negatives mostly related to sharpness. Although the vast majority of the flick appeared nicely delineated and crisp, some shots displayed a vague softness. These concerns didn’t overwhelm, but they gave the movie a slightly tentative feel at times. A few low-light shots also came across as a bit dense, though these remained in the minority. This was a transfer with few concerns, but the smattering of issues were enough to make it a “B+”.

I also gave a “B+” to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Chicken Little. It presented a fairly engaging soundfield. Not surprisingly, its best moments related to elements with the aliens. Those helped open up the spectrum pretty nicely. The action climax worked best, as the ships and creatures zoomed around the room well. Otherwise, we got good stereo impressions from the music along with solid environmental material. The latter reverberated in the rear speakers to positive effect.

No problems with audio quality occurred. Speech was always concise and natural, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music seemed bright and lively. Effects showed good distinctiveness, and they offered nice low-end when appropriate. The alien sequences brought my subwoofer to life and added solid depth. The track wasn’t quite immersive enough to merit an “A”-level grade, but it was very pleasing nonetheless.

I found the DVD’s extras to be less satisfying, as we get a small roster of them. We find four Deleted Scenes. We can watch these with or without introductions from director Mark Dindal and producer Randy Fullmer. Taken without the intros, they last a total of 10 minutes, 31 seconds. If you include the intros, they fill 13 minutes, 24 seconds.

The scenes include two alternate openings along with an “original opening” and a segment called “Lunch Break”. They appear in various stages of completion. We get some finished animation along with rough work and some storyreels. All of the various openings are quite interesting to see, especially since “original” casts Chicken Little as a girl. The intros offer basic notes about the sequences but fail to flesh them out particularly well.

Two Music Videos pop up next. We find “Shake Your Tail Feather” from the Cheetah Girls and “One Little Slip” by Barenaked Ladies. The former is fairly unlistenable as it presents one of the skillions of interchangeable telegenic pop acts from the Disney stable. The video is a dull mix of lip-synch antics and some dancing animated characters. “Slip” is no more memorable, and the video itself seems even more boring. It simply combines bland recording studio shots and movie clips. Does anyone actually enjoy these kinds of crummy videos?

The DVD lets us hear the tune “One Little Slip” in two other ways. There’s a Karaoke option as well as a Sing-A-Long. Both use identical visuals that show the animated characters dance in various settings. The songs differ in that the Karaoke one lacks vocals whereas the other comes with the original singing. Neither does anything for me.

A trivia game called “Where’s Fish?” follows. This requires you to answer questions about the movie and then locate Fish Out of Water in a shell game kind of deal. Nothing spectacular happens here, but the game is reasonably entertaining.

For a look behind the scenes, we get a documentary entitled Hatching Chicken Little: The Making of the Movie. This offers the standard mix of production materials, movie clips, and interviews. We hear from Dindal, Fullmer, supervising animators Tony Smeed, Doug Bennett and Jason Ryan, animation supervisor Eamonn Butler, composer John Debney, musicians Joss Stone, Patti Labelle, Steven Page, Tyler Stewart, Ed Robertson and John Ondrasik, and actors Amy Sedaris and Dan Molina. The show traces the origins of the production and the development of its story, character design and animation choices, voice acting and characters, the film’s music, and the daily duties of the director.

Expect “Hatching” to keep its focus general. It gets into a nice mix of subjects, as it touches on many of the areas we want. However, it races through them and remains awfully superficial. The show acts as a decent overview but never becomes particularly substantial.

The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for The Little Mermaid, The Wild, Dumbo, and Airbuddies. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with trailers for Cars, Howl’s Moving Castle, That’s So Raven, The Chronicles of Narnia and Brother Bear 2.

If you want to see a perfect example of a perfectly average animated film, look no farther than 2005’s Chicken Little. Formulaic and moderately entertaining, it maintains the viewer’s interest to a decent degree but it never threatens to truly enchant or delight. The DVD offers very good picture and sound but it includes only a few fairly minor extras. Disney fans will want to rent this one, but I can’t encourage anything more than that.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.2857 Stars Number of Votes: 21
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