Ahoy, squirts! Quint here... astoundingly with a very positive review from an early test screening of Disney's non-Pixar 3-D animated CHICKEN LITTLE. The first trailer looked nice, but didn't strike me as something special. I've got a little more faith after this review. Our reviewer does a really good job at pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of the film and, despite confessing a love for THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE, I think he's to be trusted.
Last night I had the opportunity to see an audience test screening of the new Disney movie "Chicken Little". Here's my review:
It's takes place one year after the events of what most of us know as the Chicken Little story. ("The sky is falling! The sky is falling!") It deals with the aftermath of the infamous incident and how everyone in the town treats Chicken Little like dirt because of his neurotic episode. Eventually the story leads into an exciting direction where we find out why Chicken Little thought the sky was falling.
The film still has a lot of work to be done. The beginning prologue and virtually the entire climax of the movie isn't finished. In fact, the majority of those parts were presented as animated storyboards. Most of the middle section of the film, however, was pretty much completed and looks beautiful. My own feeling while watching it was that they completely changed the beginning and ending of the film and decided to test it on an audience to see how they would react as compared to the original version. (But I could be totally wrong.)
The art direction and character design are fantastic. Chicken Little's house even looks like a chicken coop. All of the voice work is fantastic as well.
The ?background story? prologue seemed a little quick and unclear (at least as presented, but storyboards can only go so far). Then the first third (half?) of the movie deals with introducing the characters and the nature of their relationships. It includes a really cool baseball game. (Yes, a baseball game...but it rocks.) But about half-way into the movie, the mystery (which I won't spoil) starts to unfold. This section of the film is friggin' awesome. It's funny and tension-building all at the same time. The ending, unfortunately, was the most disappointing part. I felt the climactic scene was trying to be too slapstick funny (including a really poor use of an R.E.M. song) when it really should have been scary/funny like the previous section of the film. The danger never seemed very tension-building in the climax, almost like the filmmakers were afraid to make the film too dark. (And let me tell you, kids can handle dark films. Bambi's/Nemo's moms die. Scar kills his own friggin' brother. I really think the danger could have been amped up a bit in this section of the move. But then again, storyboards can only go so far.)
I have to say, Chicken Little is one of the cutest animated characters ever...both in personality and in character design. Your heart absolutely cannot help but go out to him. Zach Braff does the voice and is pretty unrecognizable from ?Garden State?. Most of the supporting characters are very good as well, especially Runt and Fish Out of Water. I also really loved Turkey Lurkey (voiced by Don Knotts), a character that I felt was sorely underused. I wasn't too impressed, however, with Chicken Little's father, who's kind of an asshole. He's embarrassed of his son and his eventual emotional turnaround seemed a little insincere (or maybe just rushed/forced).
If they can fix the beginning and most importantly the ending, this may turn out to be a friggin' awesome movie. As it stands, it's already very good. It's very, very funny. I'd say not as funny as "The Emperor's New Grove" (a Disney favorite of mine), but still very, very funny. I have to stop myself from repeating all the best jokes, but let's just say my two favorites had something to do with Barbara Streisand and with a grazing cow. Overall, I really enjoyed this film and I'm very excited to see the finished product later this year.
You can call me....Yzma (?Why do we have that lever??)