‘Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget’ serves up a warmed-over taste of Aardman’s original

‘Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget’ serves up a warmed-over taste of Aardman’s original
  • PublishedDecember 16, 2023

The great thing about animation is characters don’t age (just ask Bart Simpson), which allows Aardman Studios to hatch the sequel “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget” 23 years after its rightfully admired predecessor. If only the movie lived up to its witty title, in a Netflix film that’s mildly and sporadically amusing but mostly just an unnecessary, warmed-over rehash.

Bowing a bit to the passage of time, the producers have replaced the key original voices, which included, somewhat unexpectedly, Mel Gibson in this otherwise very British production. This time, Thandiwe Newton and Zachary Levi serve as Ginger and Rocky, who not only survived and escaped from Tweedy’s Farm to a safe refuge but who in short order have and raise a daughter, Molly (“The Last of Us” star Bella Ramsey).

Life seems to be about as good as it can, but in movie terms, where’s the fun in that? So the chickens soon face a new threat from an industrialized plant that churns out chickens (or parts thereof), luring them to their wide-eyed doom with the promise of a kind of theme park that essentially hypnotizes them.

The spunky Ginger isn’t about to take this threat lying (or laying) down, and Molly shares some of mom’s grit. That alters the dynamic from fleeing danger in the earlier movie to stepping up to face it, however improbable and mismatched that fight might be.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget. (L to R) Rocky (Zachary Levi), Nick (Romesh Ranganathan), Fetcher (Daniel Mays) in Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget coming to Netflix on 15th December.

The chickens and their friends face a new threat in “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.”Aardman//Netflix

Some of the stately actors do reprise their roles (Imelda Staunton and Miranda Richardson among them), in a movie directed by Sam Fell (“ParaNorman”) from a screenplay credited to Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell (who worked on the original) and Rachel Tunnard.

Still, while Aardman’s stop-motion approach, featured on projects like “Wallace & Gromit” and “Shaun the Sheep” (as well as less-successful larks like “Early Man”), retains its old-school appeal and visual distinctiveness in an age of computer-generated animation, the story plays like a rather tired excuse to redo the first story with a few cosmetic tweaks, hoping to tap into adult nostalgia while potentially attracting a new generation of kids.

Of course, major studios regularly do just that, but Aardman has always had the advantage of being a quirkier, more boutique operation. Consider it a sign of the times, too, that while “Chicken Run” strutted its stuff at the theatrical box office, the sequel finds a home on Netflix, where, conveniently, subscribers can also find the earlier movie.

That might be reason enough based on streaming math to punch up “Dawn of the Nugget,” but in terms of whether that cluck down memory lane will pay off, Netflix would be well advised to heed that old, sage advice about not counting chickens before they’re hatched.

SOURCE: CNNNEWS

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