In 2000, Aardman Animations produced its first full-length feature, Chicken Run. Whenever you’re feeling militant or miserable after a fruitless day of work, tune into Netflix and settle down for a hilarious stop-motion animated adventure featuring doughty chicken, dreams of flight and typical British humour.
World War II has ended, but conditions remain dire at a poultry farm in Yorkshire. The farm is run by the tyrannical Mrs Tweedy and her gormless husband Mr Tweedy. Hens that don’t lay eggs every single day are given the chop.
Ginger is leading the resistance, coming up with inventive ways to escape the Tweedys and their mean dogs. Yet, every single plan fails, until a solution comes flying out of the sky: the American rooster Rocky Rhodes. Could Rocky teach the other birds to fly over the fence that has imprisoned the chickens and guide them to their freedom?
Rocky is a charmer but not quite the saviour he claims to be. Meanwhile, the ’orrible Mrs Tweedy decides that poultry isn’t as lucrative as slaughtering the chickens to make pie.
Directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park and written by Karey Kirkpatrick, the film is a fun-filled blast that sends up profit-obsessed corporate culture too. Here is an animated movie that makes a case for unionisation and joint action against workplace injustice. Ginger, who is voiced by Julie Sawalha, is a fearless heroine who leads from the front, losing her equilibrium only on occasion when she develops a crush on Rocky (voiced by Mel Gibson).
Other characters include the fatuous rooster Fowler (voiced by Benjamin Whitrow), who bangs on about his stint in the Royal Air Force. Everybody has a part to play in the mission, from the feather-brained hens who cluck-cluck away to a pair of sniggering rats who roll out bad puns (“It’s raining hen! Poultry in motion!”). Flying the coop has rarely been this joyous, or inspiring.