Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, 2023.
Directed by Sam Fell
Featuring Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Bella Ramsey, Imelda Staunton, Lynn Ferguson, David Bradley, Jane Horrocks, Romesh Ranganathan, Daniel Mays, Josie Sedgwick-Davies, Peter Serafinowicz, Nick Mohammed, and Miranda Richardson
Having pulled off an escape from Tweedy’s farm, Ginger has found a peaceful island sanctuary for the whole flock. But back on the mainland the whole of chicken-kind faces a new threat, and Ginger and her team decide to break in.
Aardman Animation return to the coop in attempt to capture the golden-egg success of 2000’s $224 million grossing Chicken Run, albeit for a Netflix audience, and in doing-so have hatched a sequel that feels suitably direct-to-DVD anyway. That’s not to say that that at times this isn’t a thoroughly entertaining return to the world of Ginger and Rocky, you just might be expecting a little bit more considering the 23-year incubation period.
Dawn of the Nugget pulls that age-old sequel trick of turning the original on its head, so instead of having these claymation cluckers execute a prison break of daring-do, this time they’re attempting to get in and rescue a factory-load of chickens who aren’t destined for a pie, but ready to be dipped in breadcrumbs to become a bucket of nuggets.
In fact it’s not just the plot, everything here is a fowl facsimile of Nick Park and Peter Lord’s original; the voice-work, the jokes, the excitement of the escape, and they all pale in comparison.
Inheriting the cockerel’s crow from Mel Gibson, Shazam!‘s Zachary Levi is fine, but his Rocky lacks the bravado which made the character such a memorable one. The same can be said for Thandiwe Newton, who takes the hen’s teeth from Julia Sawalha as the rabble-rousing Ginger, but doesn’t leave an imprint.
It’s the newer members of the brood who take the blue ribbon at the fair. Bella Ramsey is great as the inquisitively rebellious Molly, whose desire to find out what the world is like outside of their chicken paradise leads her to cross paths with the Dawn of the Nugget‘s MVP; the delightful scouse chicken Frizzle, voiced by newcomer Josie Sedgwick-Davies in a movie-stealing performance. Ted Lasso‘s Nick Mohammed is also on-board to get the villainous laughs at the expense of the rather underwhelming return of Miranda Richardson’s once-terrifying Mrs. Tweedy. They couldn’t even be bothered to come up with a new big-bad.
There are still plenty of quintessentially Aardman moments to crow about though. A belly-laugh inducing running gag featuring the excellent David Bradley (replacing the late Benjamin Whitrow) as Fowler, sees him he recounting war stories to an unsuspecting snail. It’s straight out of Creature Comforts, and perfectly punctuates the chaotic action sequences. There’s also a terrific deadpan iPad joke which falls into the same category. You just wish there were more of these inspired asides.
While average-Aardman remains better than most, Dawn of the Nugget still feels like Chicken re-Run, which will no doubt keep the kids quiet at Christmas time, right up until the point you have to explain to them about turkey dinner.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★
Matt Rodgers – Follow me on Twitter