Post #10: Chicken Little – Disney’s First Full Attempt at CGI

12 Apr

Trying to stay on top of my Disney history, I figured it was high time that I took a look at Chicken Little, Disney’s sometimes forgotten first foray into the world of exclusively CGI animation.

The story of a chicken who thinks that the sky is falling is a fun little movie, and honestly, I thought it was decently entertaining. The voice acting was really good, and really, the animation was fairly impressive, using all sorts of new technology for Disney animators to achieve a full length CGI feature. Clearly Disney animation had come a long way from the hand drawn cels of Snow White nearly 68 years prior.

One of the biggest knocks on the film, and the reason why it never really was considered a classic despite it’s strong performance at the box office was the weak storyline. Honestly, I can see where the critique comes in, and what frustrated me was that the movie had a lot of good elements going for it.

For one, I actually liked the character of Chicken Little and I was enjoying the dynamic between him and his father, who Chicken Little believes doesn’t believe in him. The story of Chicken Little trying to earn his Dad’s love is apparent, but not fully fleshed out, and that I thought was a miss on the part of the studio. I understand that the whole “sky is falling” storyline needed to take center stage, but I can’t help but feel that there was a way to look at both storylines while doing both due justice. There was also a quick and forced love angle between Chicken Little and his friend Abbey Mallard that I could of done without, but hey, that’s just me.

The other odd thing, though not necessarily a bad thing, was how modern the movie seemed. When’s the last time you saw cell phones in a Disney movie? It almost seemed out of place, with so many of Disney’s films taking place “Once upon a time.”

There was also an unusual amount of cultural references and one of the most unique soundtracks you will ever find on a Disney movie. This movie clearly showed that gone were the days of the Disney musical and the dramatic, original scores in favor of the more modern pop songs and covers sung by the characters. Instead of getting “Hakuna Matata” and “A Whole New World,” we were treated to renditions of “I Will Survive” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” Like I said, it wasn’t bad, so much as very different, and for my money, I’m still a fan of the original music. I don’t know, it just feels more like Disney that way.

This movie was extremely important for Disney, particularly in its relations with Pixar. With the Disney-Pixar deal expiring after 2006’s Cars, this movie helped decide who would have the leverage in negotiations between the two companies. If it did well, Disney could argue that they could do CGI just as well as Pixar. If it bombed, Pixar could argue that Disney needed them to produce quality CGI films.

Chicken Little‘s modest success led to the two sides agreeing that they were better off with each other than without, causing Disney’s huge acquisition of Pixar in late 2006.

Overall, Chicken Little is definitely an important film in the Disney canon for a host of reasons, and certainly has a different feel from any Disney movie that preceded it. I thought it was an enjoyable little movie that actually had me laughing here and there, but what did you think?

 

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10 Responses to “Post #10: Chicken Little – Disney’s First Full Attempt at CGI”

  1. thataintallfolks April 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    I think this movie shows that audience members haven’t really made a connection between Disney and Pixar. Pixar films seem, for the most part, to be set in the present time period and can therefore be easy to understand. On the other hand, we have come to associate Disney 2-D films with “Once Upon a Time” in a period which happened long, long ago. There has yet to really be a film post-1999 that has seemed to capture audiences, and Box Office Numbers for that matter, and it will be interesting to see if the studios can reclaim that magic.

    • stayvictorious April 24, 2012 at 3:36 am #

      I for once had completely forgotten about Chicken Little. I didn’t even know it was a Disney film. For some reason I had always thought Toy Story was their first computer animated film, but I was wrong. I guess now that I do know about it, the film does lack a sort of Disney “magic”. I don’t know any other way to explain it but to compare the film to the likes of Toy Story or Finding Nemo. Both excellent films witha well written story and plot that captures emotion prefectly.

  2. capgmu2012 April 24, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    It’s good to read and remind myself of the other computer generated animations that Disney has made other than its famous Pixar movies. I also had forgotten about Chicken Little. I think it is a good thing for Disney to steer away from its Pixar films, otherwise would only associate feature length animations from Disney to be Pixar films. Another point you mentioned that was interesting was how modern it was. The use of cell phones may be common for us since cell phones are way too regular, but back during a time when it was rare to have a smart phone, it was a major thing to have characters regularly use them just like humans do.

  3. lookleftthenwrite April 24, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    I too had forgotten about Chicken Little. Good analysis in reference to Disney and Pixar. If this one helped Pixar establish the upper hand, I’ve learned something.

  4. garrettthomas12 April 24, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    nice read. you kind of forget it at times but it does mark a milestone. overall looking at disney and pixar films, they differ so much. even tho its all under the same name. its amazing how different the stories are and how different the animation is too.

  5. mikeweber90 May 8, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    Wow, I’ll say it as well, I didn’t know that this was Disney’s first CGI attempt, this movie kind off got lost on me a bit. This movie was never really a “must see” for me, it was just something for me to watch when I passed by while channel surfing on the TV. However, one Disney CGI film that I really enjoyed was Meet the Robinsons which intrigued me most through its story telling.

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