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Chicken run - Peter Lord, Nick Park, Karey Kirkpatrick, Jack Rosenthal, Julia Sawahla, Miranda Richardson, Mel Gibson

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Escape or die frying.

A full length claymation feature from Aardman Productions, the creators of the Academy award-winning Wallace and Gromit shorts.

They are prisoners in a cruel chicken coop. Barbed wire stands between them and freedom. They fear for their very lives and dream about freedom... freedom from Tweedy's egg farm. Every escape is a dead end and their ringleader is thrown into solitary to do hard time. But these chickens will never give up. For they know that if they don't produce enough eggs they will wind up as someone's dinner.

Ginger (Julia Sawahla), a hen, and her fellow chickens are determined to break out before it's too late. For news has it that Mrs Tweedy (Miranda Richardson), the greedy chicken owner, plans to make a fortune off of chicken pies instead of chicken eggs. Therefore, the chicken clan hatch the most daring escape plan, along with the help of Rocky (Mel Gibson), The Lone Free Ranger rooster, to fly the coop.

This is a film that promises poultry in motion.

Also starring Jane Horrocks as Baba, Imelda Staunton as Bunty, Tony Haygarth as Mr Tweedy, Benjamin Whitrow as Fowler, Timothy Spall, Lynn Ferguson and Phil Daniels. Written by Peter Lord and Nick Park, directed by Peter Lord, Nick Park, Karey Kirkpatrick and Jack Rosenthal.

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Hehehe hahaha hohoho! Those chickens sure are a hoot.

Why is it that poultry are so astonishingly funny? They are at the very foundations of great humour, be it philosophically crossing roads or slapstickingly rubber. Of course, ducks and turkeys have had their day in the sun, but no other feathered figure invokes such outrageous guffaws as the humble galliform. Maybe it's their so humble, domestic nature that makes them such an easy target for roasting, but cats, dogs, horses and cows don't come in for the same kind of obsession that chickens do.

Perhaps it has something to do with the thinness of their lips.

Anyhoo, a film that's as funny as Chicken run is as scarce as hen's teeth. The claymation is, as you should expect from Aardman, superb. Making a believable chicken out of clay is no small task but Peter and Nick have pulled it off. Their movements, their blank poultriness, their impeccable middle class sense of style (I am talking about the birds, not Peter Lord and Nick Park) is everything that you never realised you knew about chickens. The spoof on classic prisoner of war movies is so tongue in cheek you're in danger of getting lockjaw.

Chicken run is English humour at its the best while preserving the great tradition of slapstick and Vaudeville.

Julia and Mel are like cat and dog with a certain whiff of Ren and Stimpy. They may be clichés but that doesn't stop them from being a great couple. Seeing the chickens strut their stuff on the big screen brings a whole 'nother level of parody to the film without detracting from the childlike joy of it all. There's something in it for kids of all ages, even to the (subtle) point of seeing a dead animal in a movie (Hollywood hasn't managed to bring itself to kill an animal since Bambi's mother).

Anyway, Chicken run is a bright and bold film makes the price of admission seem like chicken feed, so see it.

Security censorship classification

G

Surveillance time

84 minutes (1:24 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 7 December 2000

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