Plucky plasticine poultry
Directed by Nick Park & Peter Lord
From the fevered plasticine imagination of Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, Chicken Run is an animated tale of rebellion against all odds as a brave group of chickens make a bid to escape from the pie machine of Mr and Mrs Tweedy (ie. The Great Escape in a chicken run).
This feature-length production, like its Park predecessors, is a joy to watch, as the revolutionary chickens plot an endless series of escape bids, each failing more miserably than the last. That is, until Rocky the `All American Flying Rooster', voiced by Mel Gibson, crash lands in the chicken's coup. Ginger, the chief chicken, pleads with Rocky to teach them to fly in return for nursing his broken wing back to health. As it turns out, however, Rocky is actually a circus act who gets fired from a cannon as part of the show.
Meanwhile, Mrs Tweedy, the evil owner of the farm, is planning to turn all the chickens into pies and sell them to make copious wads of cash. Her husband, Mr Tweedy, initially thinks the chickens are trying to escape, but his wife tries to convince him that it is all in his head. When the hilarious training efforts of the chickens are interrupted by Mr Tweedy, he becomes ever more unsure of his sanity.
The animation is superb throughout, and Park's extended action sequences, paticularly the scene when Rocky and Ginger are trapped in the Pie Machine, is hilarious and sublime. Chicken Run will appeal to adults and children alike, so if the little monsters want you to take them out, do yourself a favour as well. It sure beats Pokemon.
BY DEREK COPLEY
Growing up is hard to do
My Life So Far
Directed by Hugh Hudson
Ten-year-old Fraser Pettigrew's life of childhood fantasy in an eccentric Scottish highland household is changed forever with the arival of an enchanting outsider in this quirky coming of age tale.
In the Scottish Highlands where he lives, Fraser (Robert Norman) and his brothers and sisters get up to the typical childisg antics, making up games and searching for the mysterious man in the woods. But their main source of enjoyment is watching their eccentric father, Edward (Colin Firth) try out his inventions.
However, when Uncle Morris (Malcolm McDowell) brings home his fiancée Heloise (Irene Jacob) the lives of everyone in Kiloran House will be changed. With her beauty and wonderful personality, Heloise captures everybody in some way.
While she adores Fraser, he is besotted with her. Unfortunately, so is his father, on a totally different level.
It is when the naturally curious Fraser notices his father's interest in the French bride-to-be that a new world of adulthood opens, which he sets out to explore. By reading books stored in the attic, Fraser gets his understanding of sexual relations from the ancient Greeks. Needless so say, his enlightenment in matters of lovemaking is less than illuminating.
The easygoing life of the Pettigrews is thrown into turmoil because of Edward's attraction to Heloise, forcing the family to face disturbing realities before there is a reconciliation.
Full of the youthful misinterpretations that made Angela's Ashes a classic, young Fraser's awkward and often hilariously misinformed attempts to understand the adult world that lies ahead of him is just one level on which this enjoyable movie works.
BY DEREK COPLEY
Tired formula but charmingly told
Three to Tango
Directed by Damon Santostefano
Matthew Perry may merely deliver his uptight and defensively funny Chandler role from TV's Friends series in Three to Tango, but it is, nonetheless, an enjoyable romantic comedy.
Oscar Novak (Perry) and his architect partner Peter Steinberg (Oliver Platt) are chasing a career-making contract from Chicago tycoon Charles Newman (Dylan McDermott).
However, there is comptition from Novak and Steinberg's arch rivals, the hugely successful Decker and Strauss.
Securing this multi-million pound contract, therefore, is not only a great career opportunity but also a personal challenge for our stars.
Admiring Oscar Novak's determination to win the contract, Newman assigns him the additional chore of spying on his mistress, Amy (Neve Campbell), of whom he is extremely protective. The wealthy tycoon feels Novak is the right man for such a mission because Newman's secretary believes that Novak is a homosexual. Newman, therefore, does not see our hero as a threat.
You'll never guess what happens next. What? You can? Oh, well, sure aren't most romantic comedy plots the same anyway?
Novak decides to maintain the gay charade, which results in tremendous business success, and the requisite funny situations. However, finding himself falling in love with Amy and vice versa (you never saw that coming, did you), he must make the decision of whether to keep up the false image and take the money, or admit his love for Amy and lose his shirt.
d again, you'll never guess what happened next!
BY DEREK COPLEY