Disney’s ‘Chicken Little’ crammed with snarky pop culture references, lacks qualities of Pixar films

“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.


  1. MDN take is right on. Pixar’s movies have warmth and humanity– the others feel empty. They offer nothing but visuals and sitcom-ish humor.

    Wonder what Cars is going to be like.

  2. Pixar movies are essentially about being lost in the world and finding your way back to home – which is what the majority of Speilberg’s best movies are about. It’s a classic tale and is honestly told in Monsters, Toy Story 1 and 2, Nemo, and Incredibles. I hope Cars continues the streak!

  3. actually, lucas started pixar. he sold it to jobs, and that is how we got to here.

    that being said, while i like pixar movies (saw all in theatre, own all on dvd) i just don’t watch them as much as disney movies

    here, let’s take aladin for example. why? because it is FILLED with pop-culture referances. does that diminish the movie? not in the least. making camel jokes that would have been in-period would just not have worked.

    and come on, toy story is a pop-culture reference. the star wars part at the begining of two? all of the toys in general?

  4. Latest DIS Quote:
    Last PriceDay ChangeVolume
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    The stock is falling! The stock is falling!
    (sorry, couldn’t resist) ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cheese” style=”border:0;” />

  5. Actually, pixardailynews.com would be pretty cool. Something to while away the many months between blockbusters. Cars seems to be on the same development timeline track as Duke Nukem Forever. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  6. my new flat mate reckons fire fly is better than star wars. ………what a stupid GIMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i just cant comprehend it. needs a bashing, needs a bashing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

  7. I’ll grant you that George Lucas isn’t the best director, but to say he has no talent is just ridiculous. The success of the Star Wars movies were much more than “being at the right place at the right time”. Lucas created an incredibly complex universe and took science fiction to a new level that no one has been able to come close to since.

    That being said, I wish he would have turned the directing over to someone else for all of the movies. He’s a great visionary and producer, but his dialogue and direction of people leave a little to be desired. He said that he’s not going to do anymore with Star Wars himself but will turn it over to select others for TV shows, etc. I think there’s real promise in that. I’d like to see Joss Whedon do something Star Wars related.

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