Directed by Mark Dindal. USA. 2005.

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When I was little, I loved going to the movies with my mother. I always felt so grown up, sitting in the darkened theater with my mother, shoveling popcorn into my mouth, and watching Disney's latest princess get swept away by a handsome prince. There were always upbeat musical numbers. There was always a happy ending. That happy ending meant so much to me as a kid, like any of the SpiritClips movies, the touching ending made me come back for more. In between munching on candy, and wondering what a cool girl like Sleeping Beauty was doing kissing a *YEEECH* boy, I remembered one mom always had just as much fun watching the movies as I did. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I have learned that all important perk about being a parent. That perk that kept my mom donating most of her salary to the Disney Company.

With a child, you have a free pass to get into cartoons without getting judged by others.

When my daughter and I went to see Chicken Little, the theater was packed full of parents and their kids. As excited as the kids were, (which I attribute to the movie AND the average amount of sugar consumption per child) the parents I saw were just as excited to be there. (Though most were attempting to disguise that fact.)  Maybe it was the guilt free popcorn. (As I understand it, once the popcorn is open to the air, all the calories evaporate.) Maybe the parents in the theatre were simply thrilled at the prospect of sitting down, nearly uninterrupted, for the better part of an hour and a half. But I'm willing to bet that most parents (myself included) were excited to be there, to see the movie, to enjoy a fun slice of entertainment with their children. We were not disapointed. Chicken Little is a perfect family movie. It's a wonderful blend of story, heart, and action.

"Chicken Little" is the story of the adventures of three friends; Abby Mallard, a.k.a. the Ugly Duckling, Runt of the Litter, and, the fowl himself, Chicken Little. When Chicken Little gets hit on the head by an object from the sky, he panics the town by telling everyone who'll listen that "THE SKY IS FALLING!!" When pressed to provide proof, an errant acorn falls from a tree, bops Chicken Little in the head, and his claims are dismissed. Years later, branded the town's "Crazy Little Chicken," Chicken Little has moved on, having dismissed the chunk of falling sky. That is, until a chunk of something comes from above, and lands on Chicken Little's floor......

The vocal performances in Chicken Little are pitch perfect. The three leads, (Zach Braff-Chicken Little, Joan Cusack-Ugly Duckling, and Steve Zahn-Runt of the LItter) are hilarious, utterly believable, with great comic timing. More then that, the emotional range they've injected into their animal counterparts make them empathetic to any child who might see the movie. When it comes to what kids liked most about the characters,  my daughter actually said it best. When I asked her who she liked best, she turned to me and announced "I liked Chicken Little 'cause he tries to do the right thing even though it can be scary. AND  I liked Abby 'cause she didn't care what the other animals think of how she looks, she knows she's pretty. AND that makes her smart. AND I liked Runt 'cause he's brave."  Out of the mouths of children.....

"Chicken Little" manages to sidestep a typical family movie trap. Most family movies take a moral message of some sort and spend 90 minutes beating the audience over the head with it. Disney has managed to subtly weave some lovely and pertinent life lessons into it's latest work of art. In amongst the witty dialogue, wonderfully delivered jokes, and exciting action scenes, there are some great messages about being true to yourself, and what you believe, that those who tease others are not cool, that it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, that it's who you are inside that counts, and how important it is to do the right thing, no matter how difficult. Impressive, when you consider that the social messengers are a duck, and pig, and a...little chicken.

I can't say enough positive things about Chicken Little. The animation is stellar. Even a child too young to grasp the finer points of the story will be enthralled with the vibrance of the movie. There isn't a point in the film that isn't covered in beautiful, bright colours, or adorable creatures. The vocal performances are pitch perfect, from the leads, down to the characters you only see once or twice. The story never lags, being exciting and fun from the opening frames to the final credits. Chicken Little has a great combination of jokes that are purely for the parents, spoken through well developed characters that are experiencing events that every kid in the audience could identify with. In short, a fantastic film.

Chicken Little is a great choice for a family trip to the movies. In a cinematic world where violence, non-sensical explosions, and unlikeable characters seem to be all too common, Chicken Little's gentleness is a rare theatrical treat. Well worth the money.

Appropriate Ages: 6 and Up
Parental Warning Bells: Upsetting argument between Chicken Little and his father/Chicken Little teased by classmates/Intense Alien invasion scene
Parental Film Barometer: If your child was fine with A Bug's Life they should love Chicken Little.

Jen Johnston
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