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Western Animation / Chicken Little

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I get the feeling, in this town,
I'll never live 'til I live down
The one mistake that seems to follow me around

But, they'll forget about the sky
When they all realize this guy's
About to try to learn to fly, or hit the ground...
Barenaked Ladies, "One Little Slip"

Chicken Little is a 2005 computer-animated film produced by Walt Disney Animation, and is the Disney Animated Canon's first completely CG film not by Pixar, as well as the first CGI non-Pixar movie to Disney as a wholenote . The 46th film in the Disney Animated Canon, it is based on the fairy tale of the same name, but set in modern times and given a Science Fiction spin.

In the original tale, a little chicken is hit by an acorn on the head and believes that the sky was starting to fall down in pieces; he/she sets out to warn the king and is joined by other animal characters, eventually running into the evil Foxy Loxy, who wants to eat them.

In the movie, Chicken Little is a nerdy boy who gets bullied in school despite his cleverness because of that ONE false alarm he created that caused waves of panic throughout the town a year earlier. He also has a troubled relationship with his widowed father, Buck Cluck, who cares more about the approval of his peers than caring for his son. He tends to hang out with other unpopular kids — such as Abby Mallard (a homely duck girl who has a crush on Little, but he doesn't seem to realize it); Runt of the Litter, a cowardly, but friendly pig boy who has an obsession with food; and Fish out of Water, who is an actual fish out of water who wears a diving helmet (filled with water) to be able to breathe. They often get teased by Foxy Loxy, a female bully. But as the film progresses, Chicken Little and his friends uncover the presence of extraterrestrials in their town and attempt to warn the now-extremely skeptical townsfolk before all havoc breaks loose.

The movie had two game adaptations, one of them based in the movie-within-the-movie.

This is the second single-story Disney Animated Feature after Robin Hood to use anthropomorphic characters with no humans. A third film with this concept, Zootopia, was released in 2016.

Note: Disney had already adapted the Chicken Little story once before, as a 1943 animated short parodying, of all things, Nazi propaganda. See this page for tropes relating to that version.

Chicken Little contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
  • Adaptational Heroism: Foxy Loxy is not the culprit behind the film's conflict. Though she's not a hero either.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: In-Universe. The Film Within a Film of Chicken Little completely twists all of the main characters. Adventurous Cloud Cuckoolander Fish is a Mr. Spock expy, panicky Runt is a stalwart boar, Ugly Cute but helpful Abby is stunning but helpless, and nerdy Chicken Little is a rugged Action Hero.
  • Adults Are Useless: Other than Kirby's parents, who are just looking for their missing child, not a single adult bothers to be helpful towards our main characters. Sure, Buck helps his son to return Kirby to his parents in the climax, but he falls in the same category through the story for being irresponsible and just caring for his own reputation.
  • Advertised Extra: Despite appearing on the DVD cover, the front of the DVD itself and in much of the marketing for the film, Morkubine Porcupine only appears in about 3 scenes in the film and has exactly three words: 'Yo', 'No', and 'Whoa.'
    • He also "beatboxes" during the cast's performance of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" during the end credits.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted by Kirby (who does not speak English), but played straight with his parents (who do).
  • All-CGI Cartoon: This is the first completely computer-animated film not by Pixar for both the Disney Animated Canon and to Disney as a whole.note 
  • All of the Other Reindeer: With the exception of Abby, Runt, and Fish out of Water, Chicken Little is shunned by everyone — including his father.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The theme song for the Japanese dub is "Itsuka Kitto" by Mayo Okamoto. For the Latin American dub, it's "Todos Tenemos A Alguien" (We All Have Somebody) by Alejandro Lerner.
  • Anticlimax: The "invasion." Wait, that's it? That's all there is?
  • Apathetic Citizens: The residents of Oakey Oaks are, quite frankly, complete jerks, who only give Chicken Little the time of day if he wins a ball game for them.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Stop messing around and deal with the problem!" which is what Abby constantly keeps telling Chicken Little to do about his father. The third time, she means the Alien Invasion.
    • "Today is a new day," Chicken Little's motivational motto.
    • "You've gotta believe me this time," said when Chicken Little begs his father to believe him. It takes three times for Buck to support his son.
  • Audible Gleam: Made by a penny that distracts the Mayor.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Most of the bipedal Funny Animal cast goes shoeless.
  • The Benchwarmer: When Chicken Little decides to sign up for baseball in hopes of redeeming himself to the public, he is treated the same way as before with the team not even giving him a chance to go up for bat and just keeping him on the bench for all the games. When he finally gets into a game and goes up for bat, he is told not to swing and go for a walk by the coach while the audience complains that he's going to lose the game. Not only does Chicken Little ignore the coach's demand, he manages to score the winning run for the team.
  • Berserk Button: Normally Chicken Little puts up with Foxy Loxy's bullying...but he gets angry when she decides to throw a dodge ball at Abby (after the coach had called a time out).
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Chicken Little gives Abby a big smooch during the invasion.
  • Bizarre Beverage Use: During the "One Little Slip" scene, Chicken Little uses soda from a soda bottle to rocket himself up to the window of the school. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun when he uses a carbonated soda bottle to fly up to the bell tower to warn the townspeople of the aliens.
  • Break the Cutie: The premise of the movie is a cute little chicken making a mistake which follows by him getting ostracized by the townspeople, not letting him live it down. It's clear it tears on his self-esteem and he's more desperate than ever to get his father's approval, who's ashamed of him.
  • Brick Joke: Chicken Little's Origami pants, which his movie counterpart wears at the end when he and movie-version Abby fly off.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Foxy Loxy tries to do this to the aliens... it doesn't end well.
  • Butt-Monkey: The unlucky title character is put through hell by everyone in town except his three friends. Even his father gets in on mistreating poor Chicken Little.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Chicken Little eventually calls out his father for never being there for him (aside from the ball game) ever since the sky falling incident. Buck sees the error of his ways and apologizes.
  • The Cameo: A three-eyed Mickey Mouse appears at the end on the alien dad's watch.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: "Big acorn lebefluh"
  • Cassandra Truth: Naturally, nobody believes Chicken Little about the UFO...
  • Casting Gag: The Italian version has Mayor Turkey Lurkey voiced by Walter Veltroni, who was Rome's mayor at the time.
  • Character Catchphrase: Chicken Little says "Who we talkin' about?" a lot. Though this is normally because he breaks down under the pressure.
  • Chicken Joke: Chicken Little crosses the road to get to school on time, referencing this joke.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The Mayor is both amiable and very spacy, though he has moments of lucidity.
  • Company Cross References:
    • In the opening, while Buck Cluck tries to figure out a way to start the story, he uses a familiar sunrise before discarding it.
    • The alien father wears a three-eyed Mickey Mouse watch.
    • There are also several Lucasfilm references, before Disney even purchased the company. In the prologue, some animals are watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Runt spoils the ending of The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Contagious Cassandra Truth: When the title character finally succeeds in convincing his friends that "the sky is falling" (in other words, an alien ship is visiting), the rest of the town don't believe them either.
  • Crack in the Sky: The climax starts with the sky appearing to crack, revealing the hexagonal tiles that the aliens use to disguise their ships in the sky.
  • Cue Card: Turkey Lurkey's aides hold up cue cards to inform him on how to act, including one telling him his fly is open.
  • Cute Mute: Fish Out of Water is both speech-deprived and utterly charming.
  • Demoted to Extra: Foxy Loxy has less importance in this film than in the original source material or the 1943 short.
  • Determinator: Chicken Little will stop at nothing to gain his father's approval and restore his reputation.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When the aliens invade Oakey Oaks, Foxy Loxy throws a rock at one of them instead of just getting away. As a result, she's zapped by them.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Chicken Little has a habit of creating more than a few disastrous situations, some intentional, some not.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Chicken Little's innocent mistake of believing the sky is falling after getting hit in the head by an acorn is treated as the biggest, most shameful and embarrassing thing done known to man, with the townspeople refusing to let him live it down even one year later. The word "overreact" doesn't do it justice.
  • Dodgeball Is Hell: An early scene.
  • Drench Celebration: Chicken Little gets soaked in sports drink after winning the baseball game. This gets lampshaded as being part and parcel with "the glory" by the sportscaster.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The titular character appeared in Japan in Kingdom Hearts II before the film was released in theaters. Ironically, Little is quite useful, and you get him very early in the game after completing two Disney worlds.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Chicken Little repeatedly struggles with derision and mistrust from friends, family, and all who know him. Also, his mom is dead. In the end, his "crazy talk" is vindicated, he becomes a hero to the town, he develops a better relationship with his dad, and he and Abby become a couple.
  • Easily Forgiven: Chicken Little and everyone else in Oakey Oaks let the near-destruction of the planet by aliens slide. After all, they were only looking for their child.
  • Embarrassed by a Child: A boy points at Little and says "Look, Mommy, it's the crazy chicken!" His mom pulls him away, saying "Yes, that is the crazy chicken, we don't make eye contact."
  • "Everybody Helps Out" Denouement: The movie follows up the climax with the aliens helping restore all the damage they did to the town after the title character clears up their fatal misunderstanding.
  • Expy: The four main characters bear a sanitized similarity to those of South Park, with Fish Out of Water=Kenny McCormick, Runt of the Litter=Eric Cartman, and Chicken Little/Abby Mallard=Stan Marsh/Kyle Broflovski.
  • Facepalm: Out of irritation, Buck Cluck facepalms as several news reporters inquire his son Chicken Little after he announced the sky was falling.
  • Fantastic Aesop: If you see danger coming to your hometown, don't bother to warn anyone, because they will make fun of you endlessly.
  • Fish out of Water: Literal Metaphor in this case. The character Fish Out of Water walks on land and has his head surrounded by a helmet of water that allows him to breathe.
  • Foot Popping: Abby lifts her leg in ecstasy when Chicken Little kisses her.
  • Foreshadowing: The alien ship features several hexagonal features. Most notably, the first sign of their presence is a hexagonal-shaped piece that falls from the sky; in addition, the entrance to their space station is hexagonal-shaped. This is foreshadowed by Chicken Little's blanket as shown in the scene (in which he bonds with his father in his room) just preceding the entrance of the aliens: it has a hexagonal-shaped pattern, as seen here.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: In-Universe. In the Chicken Little movie, Runt's character is killed while attacking the aliens. Chicken Little's character tearfully says that "he was my good friend"...and then plunges into a romantic scene with Abby's character.
  • Forgotten Framing Device: The movie opens up with Buck serving as a narrator who struggles to come up with a unique way to open the movie. Once the story actually starts, he never narrates again.
  • Foul Waterfowl: Goosey Loosey is a bully to Chicken Little, just like her best friend Foxy Loxy.
  • Furry Confusion: Chicken Little has a broken egg for a rug. Yolk and all.
  • Gender Flip: Since when was Foxy female in the original?
  • Gentle Giant: Runt of the Litter may be large, but he's kind and good-hearted, if a bit neurotic.
  • Go Through Me: Buck places his son behind him when the alien father confronts them about "kidnapping" Kirby.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: In a rather surprising subversion considering the company this came from, almost everyone wears a full set of clothes. Not wearing pants is treated as nudity. And yet some characters don't wear pants - Abby, Fish, the sheep, and the chameleon posing as streetlights, who are mostly or completely nude.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: Chicken Little loses his pants in one scene and covers himself with his schoolwork.
  • Hands Play In Theater: Near the end of the movie, Chicken Little and Abby Mallard both reach out for the same popcorn bucket and accidentally touch hands. The movie they're watching is conveniently playing a part where the characters representing them are declaring their love for each other as this happens.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Foxy Loxy turns into a sympathetic and throughly feminine character, but not of her own volition.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: Chicken Little is hit in the head by a high-tech hexagon that automatically adjusts to its surroundings to make itself invisible. The hexagon turns out to be a panel from the hull of an invisible alien spaceship.
  • Hollywood Chameleon: The chameleons posing as stoplights put forth colors not usual for their species and do so in a manner appropriate for practical use.
  • Hyperventilation Bag: Runt panic-breathes so hard into a bag that he accidentally swallows it.
  • Improvised Clothes: Chicken Little makes origami pants out of his homework.
  • Improvised Jetpack: Combined with Soda Can Shake Up, Chicken Little often uses a bottle of soda in order to propel himself to high places. His movie version takes this up a notch by using a jetpack powered by soda bottles.
  • Inexplicably Speaks Fluent Alien: Fish out of Water is able to communicate with the alien child Kirby and explain his situation to his friends. He, like the rest of the animals, has never heard the language before.
  • Jerk Jock: Foxy Loxy is unusual in that she is a female one, rather than being the Alpha Bitch. In one scene before her brainwaves got scrambled, she showed elements of being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Lighter and Softer: While still a cynical movie, it's nowhere near as bleak as Disney's take on the material back in 1943, complete with a much happier conclusion than the original short's Downer Ending.
  • Living Mood Ring: The mechs that the aliens pilot have lights that change color depending on their emotion, turning blue when they're docile, yellow when panicking or worried, and red to signal anger.
  • Karaoke Box: During the scene where Abby and Runt are singing "Wannabe".
  • Malicious Misnaming: Foxy Loxy malevolently nicknames Abby "Ugly Duckling."
  • Merchandise-Driven: Some viewers considered the film to be more overtly product-oriented than most Disney films.
  • Missed Him by That Much: As the alien parents are chasing Chicken Little and his friends aboard the spaceship, assuming the gang broke in and kidnapped their child, said child is scuttling around the spaceship just a few feet away from them.
  • Missing Mom: Chicken Little's mom died at some unspecified point before the start of the film, and Buck Cluck still hasn't learned how to be an effective single parent to his son by the time the movie begins.
  • Mistaken for Insane: Something that is shaped like a stop sign (which is a piece from the aliens' spaceship) hits Chicken Little on the head. He sounds the town's alarm bell, claiming the sky is falling, and when he tries to explain what happened, an acorn lands on his head. His father Buck concludes that it was just an acorn, and this incident causes the townspeople to dub Chicken Little "the crazy little chicken".
  • Mobile Fishbowl: Fish Out of Water wears a scuba helmet filled with water in order to interact with Chicken Little and the others. The film's editor, Dan Molina, performed the "voice" for Fish by vocalizing through a tube into a water cooler tank full of water. A background fish character is seen driving a fishbowl car.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Lampshaded; at the end, Hollywood gets hold of the story and butchers it right into a stereotypical Sci-Fi action film.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: The aliens are actually peaceful acorn gatherers; but when their son disappears, they immediately decide the best solution to their problem is to blow up an entire planet.
  • Nominal Villain: The aliens who invade the Earth are only looking for their missing son. They don't actually kill anyone and fix the damage they cause once they get him back.
  • No-Respect Guy: Chicken Little functions as the Only Sane Man in town, continually being vilified for saying "The sky is falling" and reporting the existence of aliens — until the end of the film, when they discover he was right.
  • Not What It Looks Like:
    • Aboard the alien spaceship, Chicken Little and his pals discover a map of the solar system that has several planets ominously crossed out in red, with a circle drawn around Earth and a bunch of arrows pointing to it, and assume, "We're next!" The aliens actually crossed out those planets because they visited them, but didn't find any acorns there.
    • And just as Little and the gang are fleeing the spaceship in terror, the alien parents come back and realize their child is missing, while also finding intruders aboard, and immediately make the wrong connection.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: The whole point of the movie. Because of one misunderstanding, Chicken Little gets bullied and made a pariah to no end for a year (until he redeems himself).
    "I get the feeling in this town/I'll never live 'till I live down/the one mistake that seems to follow me around."
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Threatening to wipe out a whole planet to find your missing son? Yeah, that definitely describes the alien father.
    • Buck Cluck also gets shades of this during the last part of the film, when he starts smacking around aliens and yelling, "Get away from my boy!"
  • Parental Neglect: Buck Cluck. Granted, he sees the error of his ways towards the end, but for the vast majority of the film, he only cares about what the egotistical self-serving townsfolk want over the well-being of his own flesh and blood. Whenever his son embarrasses him, Buck distances himself from Chicken Little as much as possible.
  • Pair the Spares: Runt becomes a couple with the newly feminine and girly-acting Foxy Loxy.
  • Professional Voice Dissonance: By means of a voice modulator, Kirby's father, Melvin, puts on a deep and threatening Voice of the Legion which he uses to intimidate his captives. When not using the modulator, Melvin sounds like a jovial father.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Foxy Loxy's "improvement". Yeah, she was a Jerk Jock, but she did have friends and presumably family who liked her the way she was, and they don't restore her because Runt prefers her as an ultra-feminine Mind Rape victim.
  • Pulling Your Child Away: After humiliating himself last year by claiming that the sky was falling, Chicken Little is shunned by almost the entire town. One little kid with his mom sees him and says, "Look, Mama, there's the crazy chicken!" Mom just drags the kid away, saying, "Yes, that's the crazy chicken, you're so smart, we don't make eye contact, bye-bye!"
  • Reference Overdosed: Nearly every scene has a reference to some other film, including a few seconds of The Lion King's intro in the beginning. Cue the narrator's reaction being a negative one.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Whether you hate the movie or not, there's one thing everyone agrees on: Chicken Little is utterly adorable.
  • Same Language Dub: For the Australian cinema release of the film, Buck Cluck was voiced by Mark Mitchell instead of Gary Marshall.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Similar to the Show: One of the trailers resembled one made for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) movie (Disney produced both films). The movie posters and the box art for the DVD borrow from the then-current Men in Black II.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Foxy Loxy after being brainwashed by the aliens into being girly and nice. And she is kept that way. (Although it could have been a "Freaky Friday" Flip...)
  • Show Within a Show: At the end of the film, a movie is made of Chicken Little's exploits in saving the town and the world from aliens. Instead of telling it faithfully, the movie is a cross between Star Trek and Star Wars and prominently features Adam West.
  • Southern Belle: Foxy Loxy gets mindraped into one in the ending, and she stays that way.
  • Storybook Opening:
    • Disney's frequent use of a standard storybook film start is Defied, lampshaded, and mocked. Buck rejects the idea.
      Buck Cluck: Oh, no, no, not the book. How many have seen "opening the book" before? Close the book. We're not doing that.
    • Also ironic, as was originally planned to open this way, as shown on the bonus features for the DVD of the film.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: During the credits, the entire cast sings Elton John's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart".
  • Suicidal Lemmings: Parodied; there is a news report on the panic caused by the title character focusing on a group of lemmings who, unable to find a cliff, start jumping off park benches.
  • Tearing Through the Movie Screen: giant globe rolls through a movie theater, tearing through a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark as it plays the Signature Scene of Indiana getting chased by the giant boulder.
  • Telepathic Sprinklers: In the dodgeball scene, the title character accidentally pulls the fire alarm which sets off the fire sprinklers.
  • Theme Naming: The characters' names either rhyme with the species of animal they are (as in the original story), or form an animal-related idiom.
  • Toothy Bird: Abby the Ugly Duckling with her ever-present buck teeth. Movie Within A Movie Chicken Little has teeth too.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: Movie Within A Movie Chicken Little.
  • The Unintelligible: Fish, who wears a water-filled helmet, communicates through bubbling sounds. Justified because he needs the helmet to breathe.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: Chicken Little asks Runt to get him a soda from the vending machine so he can rocket himself to the school bell to warn the town about the invasion. When the machine won't take his dollar, Runt goes into a ferocious rage, thrashing and pounding the machine, much to the astonishment of the others. The machine reluctantly spits a single soda bottle out.
    Runt: What happened? I blacked out there for a second.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Chicken Little sounds much older than 12 years old, being voiced by 30-year-old Zach Braff. The same applies to Abby Mallard, who's 13 years old and looks it, but is given a much more mature-sounding voice by Joan Cusack.
  • Voice of the Legion: The alien leader's voice is low, echoing, and menacing. Turns out it's just a trick.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Chicken Little tries to do something heroic or amazing so Buck, his father, will finally be proud of him. It's a major plot point.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kirby's parents are so desperate to find their lost son that they bring the Galactic Armada to Earth.
  • World of Funny Animals: All the characters in the film (except the aliens) are bipedal talking animals who wear clothing and generally behave like humans. Unusually, the concept of having Carnivore Confusion and No Cartoon Fish is averted in the film.
  • World of Jerkass: Because of a false alarm that was issued a year ago, everyone is a terrible jerk to Chicken Little. Even his father is open about how far away he is from him. The only characters who support him during the entire movie are Abby Maellard, Runt of the Litter, and Fish Out of Water.
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: Despite his size, Runt does a good job avoiding dodgeballs simply by running around in fear. It isn't until he copies Fish's moves at Abby's suggestion that he starts getting pelted with balls.


Video Example(s):


Chicken Little: The True Story

Chicken Little ends with a clip of the movie inspired by the events of the film and the protagonist's life...though an incredibly loose adaption of it, as Little is turned into a muscle-bounded Captain Kirk-type hero, protecting the world from an alien invasion, with equally over-the-top versions of his friends

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShowWithinAShow

Media sources: