Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Chicken Run

Because I am such a disappoint, no internet at my place means no Hit Me With Your Best Shot video this week (since I have no actual ability to get clips and other items I’d need to resource for that stuff).

Still I am too dedicated to it now to ever let the inability to post a YouTube video keep me from participating (and I still have the one I already made ready and waiting for y’all the moment I get that connection back… TOMORROW! :D) and so I have yet another submission for Nathaniel R.’s HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT at the Film Experience. Just hum the tune in your head for me and imagine me going through something really painful or embarrassing.

And this week Nathaniel has made the selection the very first Aardman Animation feature film, Chicken Run, undoubtedly due to the recent release of Shaun the Sheep Movie, which I haven’t yet went and seen and I am undoubtedly disappointed in myself for that. Because I’m very much in the bag for Aardman Animation ever since I happened to pass by a Wallace & Gromit short on PBS as a child. And of course, at the age of 8, my mother took me to see Chicken Run in the theaters.

Unfortunately, that was the only time I saw that movie prior to last night, so I took it upon myself to re-watch it as an adult and see how it holds up. And it holds it quite well, though it’s easier to see that Nick Park’s work has very much evolved in terms of using claymation to talk about texture. And while as a child, I had no way of catching the obviousness of its Great Escape premise, I still could enjoy most of its visual gags and the craftiness the animated films’ design, especially when it came to the Flying Coop which I found myself wanting to build.

But watching it as now being 23 years old, I was pretty impressed by how easily they were able to make the inhuman characters feel human. More like people than the absolute dread of the Tweedies in their midst, the chickens quite quickly caught me off-guard with their stock yet recognizable personalities amongst their number and making them extremely sympathetic in their broad yet endearing quirks. Even a man who enjoys eating chicken as much as I get put off by the concept for once in a while. In fact, one of the shots I was going to pick was an ominous little work of shadows and greys in an neo-Expressionist style as we witness one chicken be forced to her death, but I decided against it.

Still, I’m going to cheat a bit because I feel the majority of the shots – wides of all the chickens in a group going wild, screaming, or moving in circles – showcase something really hilarious and yet a boon to their attempt to escape, they are extremely organized and in tune with each other as one. When one of them screams, they all scream. They all race for chicken feed, they all copy Rocky’s motion of pain with his broken wing. They just happen to all have their mind set on the wrong thing for the most part.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.07.08 PM

Or in the wrong mood.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.12.43 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.12.51 PM

Now these aren’t my best shots, but I felt it necessary to go ahead and show them as few examples of the many shots that show them in tandem – either physically or psychologically – with each other. It makes them great for teamwork and bad for everything else (hence why Ginger has to keep their heads in the game and in one of the earlier scenes, we see its even hard for her not to go with the pessimistic flow and give up).

Their final scene of escape (SPOILER, but it’s a fucking kids movie, you knew damn well they’d escape) actively revolves around them of course working tandem once more, but I’m not picking a shot out of that either.

No, I made a point earlier to remark upon the chickens being anthropomorphic to a very effective degree and stand by it all the way to the end. And I just made a point about how they all do everything together. So, while I find it very much silly to see chickens running in circles and jumping off of houses together, I don’t find it anymore sillier to me than at the very point of the movie where they are nearly caught by Mr. Tweedy…

… and act like chickens.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.07.26 PM

These characters are so effective to me, that them walking about, cocking and pecking the ground is what makes me go “What the hell is wrong with you guys?” and cracks up. And that’s why that’s my Best Shot from Chicken Run.

Now, I’m gonna go grab myself by the belt loop and throw myself into the theater to see Shaun the Sheep Movie.

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