It’s tough not to love an undersized chicken with green glasses as big as his heart. But it’s easy not to love the sort of scary aliens who attack his town.
Why do children’s filmmakers have to throw in scary images even when the story is a relatively benign one that ought to be just right for little kids?
Walt Disney Pictures, the company that made "Chicken Little," which opened nationwide on Nov. 4, does just that.
In typical Disney fare, this chicken has no mother (judging from the sad way Dad talks to Mom’s picture, it seems she has died). He has only a dad who has trouble talking to his son—the same son who has been ridiculed for riling up the town with a mistaken claim that the sky was falling.
My kids, ages 9 and 11, and I saw this new release in its impressive 3-D format at our favorite neighborhood theater, the Lake Theatre in Oak Park. The new digital 3-D process created some amazing effects—we actually dodged the dodge ball that appeared headed our way—and the movie is beautiful to look at.
However, the story is a little thin (even my kids noticed that) and, beyond a few bows to other classic movie scenes, this movie doesn’t work on both children’s and adults’ levels—unlike smarter animated fare such as "The Incredibles."
In the end, everything works out for Chicken Little. We find that the big, mean aliens are really gentle, little egg-shaped fur balls who are using "the big voice" because they’re mad someone stole their child. Chicken Little rescues the baby alien, returns it to its parents, becomes a hero for saving the town and, most important of all, regains his dad’s respect.
This is a simple story that ought to be a joy for younger kids. Unfortunately, the scenes where the spider-like aliens invade the town in search of their lost child could be too intense for younger, more sensitive viewers, particularly in 3-D.
But if you think your child can take the intensity, opt for the 3-D version, also available at Loews Streets of Woodfield 20 in Schaumburg, Regal Lincolnshire 20 in Lincolnshire, Crown Village Crossing 18 in Skokie and Kerasotes ShowPlace 12 in Schererville, Ind. That’s the big treat for older kids and adults in "Chicken Little."