Aardman Animations returns to stop-motion poultry greatness with a splendid sequel of daring heroics and comic shenanigans. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget hits Netflix 23 years after the original hen escapades on Tweedy’s farm. The fearless fowls absconded to an island paradise of glorious free-range living away from hungry humans. Their sanctuary remains a secret, but a dastardly new threat emerges. An alleged utopia lures away unwitting chickens to a crispy fate as bite-sized morsels in a bucket. The film tickles funny bones while offering sly commentary on corporate meat production and the ethical treatment of animals.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget takes place in a ’60s era setting. Ginger (Thandiwe Newton) and Rocky (Zachary Levi) are happily married with a chick on the way. They’re overjoyed to be parents when the egg hatches in a truly unique way. Their offspring Molly (Bella Ramsey) has an insatiable curiosity and fearlessness that keeps everyone on their claws. Ginger does her best to dissuade her daughter’s boldness, but she’s a chip off the old block and a magnet for trouble.
Ginger’s efforts to stay hidden become complicated when a new road is constructed near the island. She watches as cheery painted trucks from Fun-Land are seen transporting loads of chickens. Babs (Jane Horrocks), Bunty (Imelda Staunton), and Mac (Lynn Ferguson) are stunned when Ginger doesn’t want to investigate further. Her adventure days are over. The chickens will build better camouflage and mind their own business.
Molly’s Joyous Arrival
Release Date December 15, 2023
Director Sam Fell
Cast Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Imelda Staunton, Bella Ramsey, David Bradley
Runtime 1hr 37min
Main Genre Animation
Molly completely ignores her parents’ warnings. She sneaks out to the road and is quickly snatched up by a Fun-Land convoy. The terrified hen is shocked by her fellow prisoners’ demeanor. The chickens are all ecstatic. A new friend, Frizzle (Josie Sedgwick-Davies), tells Molly not to worry. They are going to the best place ever. Meanwhile, Ginger, Rocky, and the gang are soon hot on mischievous Molly’s trail.
Molly and Frizzle arrive at a Disney-esque theme park of awesome rides and unlimited corn feed. What was she afraid of? Every chicken is fat and happy with an electronic collar. Outside Fun-Land’s robot-patrolled moat and electric fence, Ginger senses impending doom for Molly. They must figure out a way to get inside and rescue her. In the factory, Dr. Fry (Nick Mohammed), Fun-Land’s creator and the new husband of the villainous Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson), has an important meeting with a restaurant franchise owner (Peter Serafinowicz). He’s about to revolutionize “fast food” with a new concept: a happy chicken is much tastier.
Chicken Run was a clever spoof of the classic World War II film, The Great Escape. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget puts Mission: Impossible and James Bond themes into a claymation blender. This time around, the chickens have to break into jail instead of escaping. That’s no easy task with Dr. Fry’s army of goons and elaborate security measures. They also have to contend with a more ferocious Mrs. Tweedy in a purple Nehru jacket. She looks like a female Dr. No itching for vengeance against her hen nemesis. Tweedy’s reaction to seeing Ginger will have audiences rolling with laughter.
Director Sam Fell (Flushed Away, ParaNorman) and the original’s gifted screenwriter, Karey Kirkpatrick (James and the Giant Peach, Over the Hedge), embrace a modicum of complexity for deeper meaning. There’s much more going on here than chicken antics. Ginger isn’t racing gung-ho into danger. She’s matured as a parent and recognizes impetuous actions endanger her beloved family.
Rocky, who unintentionally inspires Molly’s rebelliousness, still wants to be the flying rooster who saves the day. His bungling machismo is the antithesis of Tom Cruise and Sean Connery. Molly also learns a valuable lesson about the dangers of being obstinate. She makes a big mistake not listening to Ginger and Rocky. Parents have the best intentions for their children. The rules are set for a reason. Respect boundaries or face the consequences. You don’t want to end up skinned, gutted, breaded, and fried.
It’s refreshing to watch an animated film that’s not an unrelenting CGI onslaught. Old school methods can be just as exciting. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget isn’t trying to blow you away with crazy visuals. Too many family films eschew a thoughtful narrative for mindless bells and whistles. There’s action aplenty, but it’s all in service to the script. The story is above all paramount. There’s also no product placement or rampant commercialism. Parents will save a few bucks as kids won’t be begging for chicken toys.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget smartly provokes critical thinking. How did that 10-piece magically appear in rounded, boneless chunks on your plate? Dr. Fry’s presentation sums up the stark truth of Fun-Land. Confining animals to an enclosed space and gorging them on fillers is cruel. They deserve to be treated humanely.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is a production of Aardman Animations and Netflix Animation. It will have a December 8th limited theatrical release followed by a Netflix streaming premiere on the 15th. You can watch the film then via the link below, and check out the trailer:
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