Chicken Little

(2005) ** G
81 min. Walt Disney Pictures. Director: Mark Dindal. Cast: Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, Don Knotts, Patrick Stewart, Amy Sedaris.

For all its computer-animated whiz-bang, Disney's Chicken Little is short on comic invention, plot, and personable characters. Far more manic than funny, Chicken Little tries to spin the kiddie standard about a little chick convinced the sky is falling into a depressingly "hip," Shreky-green comedy act.

There's a certain amount of unsinkable appeal to the ultimate little guy, voiced by Zach Braff of Scrubs. And certainly, few voices are naturally funnier than Garry Marshall's (as Chicken Little's father, Marshall opens the film with a nice riff on how to open a film). The one moment I truly appreciated in the film noted Chicken Little's small sense of self and awe of his father—the bird's eye view, from the back seat of a car, of his hulking pop's head and shoulders.

Most of Chicken Little, however, feels like a generic assembly-line product, and deviations from the norm, rather than sparking interest, evince head-scratching. Was the mid-movie pre-climax, a kiddie version of The Natural, really necessary? And what of the actual climax, which threatens the picture's G-rating by aping Spielberg's people-zapping War of the Worlds? I suppose kids will adjust to this brightly-colored mix of cheer and terror, but in the grand scheme of things, Chicken Little is a featherweight.

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