chicken Chicken Little

Chicken Little is a classic story. Last year I predicted a 200M gross for Disney's animated version.

The movie is out. Now it looks like the pros were right and I was wrong1. The movie will be no Shrek (it has managed to cross the road).

The studio has crassly reversed the meaning. In the original the foxes of the world take advantage of naive conspiracy-theorists hens but, thank God, are themselves controlled by noble hunters.

One would have thought that would be a sufficiently authoritarian fable for Disney.

But no. Now the sexless hen turns out to have been right - The sky is falling. The studio has its young hero finding a little square blue piece of sky and then, after everyone ignores this warning ... dangerous aliens land.

Far from their Chicken Little being a welcome diversion from these paranoid times, the company made it as part of these times. They have made a War of the Worlds for kids2. And so far they are not making the money they expected3.


I am particularly offended by Disney's linkage of the sky itself with danger.

I have a work in progress on the how people experience the sky & the horizon (update: here). The gist here would be that our planet's canopy has been for millions of years an invaluable force for healing. Thus any company believing in family values (as Disney fancies itself) would never introduce a childrens' story with such a sky (a sky introjected with devilry, signifying danger).

What's next from the staggering and manic-compulsive industry dinosour? A kids movie where milk & cookies everwhere are poisoned but a clever band of youngsters manage to save the city after only some die a painful, puking death?4

  1. I did not know Disney was making the movie all by itself (with no help from Dreamworks or Pixar). These days the company has as much chance of solo marshalling sufficient creative juices for a crossover kids CGI blockbuster as Quentin Tarantino has of making an impact on the culture without a torture scene. You are who you are (almost always).

  2. That Tom Cruise vehicle was probably in overlapping production, and the suits may have been afraid to compete. They may not have wanted to aim at children what amounted to an expansion of fear, but that was their market so what else could they do?

    For whatever reason, Disney chose not to add to Chicken the usual amount of adult trim jokes/verbalisms. The most cynical possibility is that they sensed most grown ups are fed up with the story of dangerous aliens landing, and expected to do better than War of the Worlds (since they had a more gullible audience).

  3. Coincidentally or not, the content is apparently awful. Steve Rhodes:
    “Our packed audience of kids and their parents was clearly not impressed. The comedy uses gags such as having Chicken Little being forced to run around in his tidy whities, much to his brief embarrassment, and showing small animals talking in mass on their cells phones. About the best that the movie can come up with is a barbell made out of two donuts and a pencil. If I ever smiled during the movie, I don't remember it.”

  4. Done in CGI, called 'Cookie Monster', with the bad guy voiced by Tom Sizemore?

updated: 2007-07-25