Sunday, March 04, 2007

Nobody Here But Us Chickens

Houston, we have a problem. Or, more accurately: Dreamworks, we have a problem. That problem involves clay and British accents and Mel Gibson and chickens. Mostly chickens.

When David and I were in China, we visited a "DVD Market" (it was a small, smoky room on the third floor of a mall otherwise devoted to jewelry) where we thoughtfully selected some "children's" movies for our new daughter: Madagascar, The Incredibles, Babe and Chicken Run. Notice a theme here? None of these is actually very appropriate for, let's say, CHILDREN. Oh, sure, school-age children, who can have a tender heart-to-heart with Mummy about the facts of life (and death) before and after. But two-year-olds? C'mon.

Nevertheless, we were trying to distract Jarrah recently and put the aforementioned Chicken Run in the DVD player. Have you seen this movie? It's about a chicken farm in England, overseen by the evil Mrs. Tweedy, who is planning to make pies out of her birds if Ginger the head chicken doesn't save the day by teaching them to fly. They are visited by Rocky the American rooster, whom they believe to be their savior (he's played by Mel Gibson--insert your own joke here) because he flies into their coop. From the opening scenes in the dead of night wherein Ginger is trying to escape some fierce, slobbering dogs, the movie is, shall we say, dark. It's made very clear what the fate of these chickens will be, either via Mrs. Tweedy's ax or the Chicken Pie Machine.

Jarrah instantly sat up and took notice of Chicken Run. Shortly after, she became obsessed with it. "Chick-eh Ruh!" she sings when she wakes up in the morning, after her nap, upon arriving home and before going to bed. "Chick-eh Ruh!" she shouts as the chickens, literally, run from their captors, barely avoiding death. She loves to stand really, really close to the TV, gasping on cue and moaning "Oh nooooo!" when Ginger gets thrown into solitary again and again, or when a dog nearly bites her head off, or when she and Rocky are thrown into the pie machine. It's all such glorious, wholesome fun!

Meanwhile, I am quietly cringing while loading the dishwasher or folding her clothes. What kind of mother am I? My darling daughter is having her first filmic love affair and I've allowed it to happen with Chicken Run? Now, make no mistake: Chicken Run rocks. It's a great movie, and the Aardman Animation folks (also responsible for Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit and the cheeky Creature Comforts) are wizards with clay story-telling. If I'm going to have to watch a movie straight through and then start it again, I could do worse. But will it besmirch the innocence of my two-year-old innocent flower, pure and untouched by all that is unsavory in this big, bad world?

Oh, who am I kidding? I should just be thanking my lucky stars that it's not Snow White. And that we haven't had to have "the conversation" about Chicken Fingers yet.


Marlene said...

They are all gruesome! Even the "best loved" G-rated things are like that. Jacob loves the scene in which Ginger yells, "ATTACK!" when Mr. Tweedy is about to grab them--I think because it's the only moment when the whole situation doesn't make them totally powerless and vulnerable. But the rest of the movie scares the yippers out of him. Did you notice, btw, that Rocky gets a medal and is featured larger than life on the cover, even though it's Ginger who is the most brave, persistent, and visionary?

Anonymous said...

I can relate! Only, over here, it is Duh-bon, or Dumbo. Gee, that movie is SO politically incorrect. I think it is time that Duh-bon gets "duh-boot".



Anonymous said...

Hi! I started reading your blog a few months ago when I first started doing research on international adoption. I love your stories and your style! Anyway, I saw this article on the NYTimes, and I thought of you.

It's about an adopted Chinese girl who just had her bat mitzvah. I really enjoyed the story, and I hope you do, too.


in Seattle

Jess & YeaYea said...


I agree with Marlene the "family favorites" we where raised with where full of unsavory themes. And don't forget my highly un-PC favorites from television Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry and we all turned out fine :-). Just be glad that right now her favorite movie is one you can stand looking at as well. In a scant 5 or 6 years she may come home from school begging to watch the latest "Disney Channel Orginal" with you and you'll spend the next two hours willing the couch to eat you alive!

Sam said...


Thank you so much for sending the NYTimes story, which I loved. I also cried over the little video about Cece and "the Fu Sisters."

I really appreciate that you wrote to me, and I hope everything is going well with your research.

All the best,

Anonymous said...

I know another 2 year old who loves that movie, although apparently not quite understanding all it's elements -- he calls Rocky "papa hen" and Ginger "mama hen." :) But, if you think that's dark, don't even try showing her Aardman's other shorts, especially "The Wrong Trousers" with that evil penguin! :) xxx lix

Mir said...

I'll just go ahead and send her all my daughter's Barbie movies, and you can send me 'Chicken Run.'

This post will come back to haunt you in, oh, three years, when commercialism and grandparents who can't say no cloud your beautiful child's mind with thoughts of Disney! and Barbie! and Bratz! and....

...the list goes on, and it is bad.