Most of the characters in this film are hens, but they have that familiar Aardman Studios look, complete with bug eyes and toothy grins. Directed by Nick Park and Peter Lord, Chicken Run plays like a feathered parody of The Great Escape. At a Yorkshire chicken ranch that looks like a German POW camp, recidivist escapee Ginger (Julia Sawalha of Absolutely Fabulous) keeps getting put in solitary (a coal bin), where she bounces a Brussels sprout off the walls like Steve McQueen with his ball in Great Escape. A brassy Yank rooster (Mel Gibson) appears and offers to teach the chickens to fly to freedom, even though the only flying he’s ever done is out of a circus cannon.
Nonetheless, the fowl need to flee, and soon, before rancher Mrs. Tweedy (who’s just bought an industrial cooking contraption worthy of Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit) turns them all into pot pies. The slapstick premise reaps endless rewards, from the humor (there’s little as funny as a panicky chicken trying to fly), to the voice acting (this is Mel Gibson’s finest performance of the last 15 years) to the sheer ingenuity on display in every frame.