“Disney’s ‘Chicken Little’ begins with a ‘Lion King’ sight gag, quickly followed by a ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ sight gag, followed by… well, let me assure you that the gagging animated children’s tale is bite-size fun, not really a main-course meal,” Craig Outhier writes for The Arizona Tribune.
Outhier writes, “Evidently moved by the success of Dreamworks’ ‘Shrek,’ the Disney brain trust is going for something similar here: A vividly animated postmodern nursery rhyme crammed with as many snarky pop culture references as their animators and writers can manage over the movie’s brief 77-minute running time. It makes for a pleasant — albeit cannibalistic — blend of the classic and modern, less feast than well-choreographed routine.”
“Director Mark Dindal also seems to have gleaned a few sci-fi style tips from rival animator Brad Bird of ‘The Incredibles,'” Outhier writes. “Wink-wink digression is fine in moderation, but by calling attention to itself as a movie about movies, ‘Chicken Little’ loses touch with itself. When the time comes for the hero to reconcile with his father, the filmmakers are ill-equipped to treat it as anything but a joke, just another movie cliché to kick around. It’s this sort of falseness that one rarely sees in really good animated films — for instance, the movies of Pixar (‘Finding Nemo,’ ‘The Incredibles’). Unfortunately, Pixar and Disney are no longer friends, and ‘Chicken Little’ proves that the latter has some serious issues to work out.”
Full article here.
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If “Chicken Little” is a hit, Disney’s and Steve Jobs’ Pixar’s negotiating positions will be affected to some degree. Pixar films have a soul of goodness that all non-Pixar animated CG films seem to lack, including the successful “Shrek” and “Shark Tales.” It sounds like “Chicken Little” also attempts to replace its lack of a soul with a load of pop culture references designed keep parents awake during matinee showings. The film will probably be a hit, but it remains to be seen how much it will affect the Disney – Pixar dance.