Chicken Little appeals to collegiate crowd and kiddos alike

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Chicken Little, Walt Disney’s first independently produced computer-animated feature film, opened Nov. 4, 2005 to the delight of little tykes across the nation. That’s not to say that this imaginative animated comedy doesn’t have anything to offer the post-adolescent set. Chicken Little, directed by Mark Dindal, who has worked on such Disney mainstays as The Little Mermaid and Oliver & Company, is a frenzied take on the traditional fairy tale of the simple-minded Chicken Little. As the movie opens, Chicken Little (voiced with an endearing quirkiness by Garden State’s Zach Braff) makes his infamous claim that the sky is falling. This greatly annoys the colorful townspeople, including the lanky mayor Turkey Lurkey (Don Knotts), and causes the great embarrassment to Chicken Little’s dad, Buck Cluck (Garry Marshall), who concludes that Chicken Little was in fact hit in the head by an acorn. Despite his incredibly small size, the ingenious Chicken Little is eager to redeem himself, with help from his friends and fellow outcasts, “ugly duckling” Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack), Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn) and the ever-cheerful Fish Out of Water (Dan Molina). After deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue baseball, Chicken Little makes a miraculous winning swing in the final game of the season, earning the praises of his fans and most importantly, his dad. Chicken Little doesn’t have time to rest on his laurels, however. While gazing out of his bedroom window, he is again walloped by a mysterious object from the sky. Only this time, it really is a piece of the sky. Calling on the help of his friends, Chicken Little tries to discover the meaning of this renegade piece of sky. While examining it, Fish Out of Water is swept away, and the remaining three frantically follow him to a giant spaceship. By the time Chicken Little has alerted all of the townspeople, however, the spaceship has disappeared, and the town angrily accuses him of another false alarm. As the rest of the town soon finds out, Chicken Little and his friends were right all along. It is only through their help that the town can stop a full-fledged alien invasion. This movie has all the trimmings of a Disney classic: the misunderstood misfit struggling for acceptance from a doubting parent, lively and engaging animation, entertaining voice-overs, goofy visual comedy and a warm, toasty message. It also has a mature facet that won’t be lost on those over 12 years old. A seasoned voice-over cast, including comedy mainstay Knotts, the endearing Cusack and the avant-garde Braff, helps to bring a witty edge to the film’s sometimes juvenile antics. An example of the film’s playful juvenility includes when Chicken Little and his classmates prepare to play the gym class favorite dodge ball. When it’s time to break into teams, the coach says, “Popular versus unpopular.” There’s also the big Hollywood movie that pays tribute to Chicken Little’s heroic actions. Its heavily exaggerated spin on events (which includes the voice of Adam West as a buff Chicken Little) is a perfect spoof of testosterone-fueled action flicks. With a trim running time of 81 minutes, this fast-paced, if somewhat slight, addition to the Disney catalogue is the perfect bit of weekend fluff, even for college students.