A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Chicken Little features prominent and repeated images of mayhem. Its opening sequence, which shows citizens running around in a panic and screaming, is somewhat frantic; it might be a bit too intense for some sensitive younger viewers. Though much of the action is benign and cartoonish (crowds in a panic, animal children playing aggressive dodgeball or baseball and falling from windows), the film ends with an alien invasion, with giant tripods and creatures inspired by War of the Worlds, and some potentially scary Predator- or Aliens-style music. Chicken Little is bullied by the other kids. One character is readable as gay, as he adores disco and cowers before his mother, and another, a tough, baseball-playing female fox, is transformed into a traditional girl -girl, as a partly jokey reinforcement of traditional gender roles. We hear in a song's lyric "be my lover."
What's the story?
When well-meaning Chicken Little (Zach Braff) begins the movie by ringing the tower bell in his small town, Oakey Oaks, he thinks he's been hit by a chunk of falling sky. When the residents discover that no chunk is to be found, they call him "crazy" and laugh at him. So Chicken Little resolves to make his dad proud by becoming a baseball star. But once again, he's hit on the head with another "piece" of the sky. Afraid to tell his father, he shows his friends, who decide that the sometimes-invisible panel is from an alien spaceship and the adults need to know. But before they can convince the adults, the kids are abducted by the aliens. When they're returned home, they're followed by an alien child, whose absence incites his parents to attack the town and punish the earthlings. The day will be saved, of course, though not before Oakey Oaks is razed and burned by stomping, ray-zapping alien tripods and the townsfolk come to realize that Chicken Little has been telling the truth all along.
Is it any good?
It's not one of the best computer-animated features that Disney (and Pixar) has released, but in its way, it stands out by making the audience want to root for Chicken Little. He's the all-too-familiar "misfit kid" with an overactive imagination, a determination to practice at baseball until he improves, and a desire to win the unconditional love of his father. Without these elements, this would be just another formulaic movie with hammy celebrities providing the voices to personified animals.
This CHICKEN LITTLE reimagines the falling sky as invading aliens. For all its silliness and slapstick, the movie is unafraid to explore the pathos of Chicken Little's status as town pariah after scaring the town, his lack of natural ability at baseball, and the difficulties in his relationship with his father, a single parent. This quality helps keep the movie entertaining and interesting to parents as well as kids caught up in the humor of the action and voicings of the characters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between the father and son, as Chicken Little wants so desperately to please his dad. How might his father show more faith in his son, rather than expecting the worst?
How might Chicken Little trust his father to appreciate his own interests and identity, rather than trying so hard to be the son he imagines his father "wants" (that is, a baseball player like his father was)?
How is this version of the famous tale different from the traditional Chicken Little story?
- In theaters: November 4, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: March 21, 2006
- Cast: Joan Cusack, Steve Zahn, Zach Braff
- Director: Mark Dindal
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book characters, Horses and farm animals, Space and aliens
- Run time: 77 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- MPAA explanation: all ages
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.