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CHICKEN LITTLE

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Disney is hoping this animated comedy from Mark Dindal (The Emperor's New Groove), about a young chicken who encounters an alien invasion, is gonna jumpstart its new 3-D division. It might sell a few tickets, but mostly Chicken is a mess. Despite years of labor, it plays like a hasty pastiche: It offers little freshness by way of jokes, clever visuals or storylines. The tale is as frantic as the proverbial panicked poultry except when it screeches to a halt for some buzz-killing family-matters talk (the concept of "closure" should never ever be discussed in a kiddie cartoon about talking barnyard animals). And for some reason, the meticulously animated creatures look like ... plush stuffed animals. The film features the voices of Zach Braff (as Chicken Little), Joan Cusack, Garry Marshall and Steve Zahn, but the cleverest character -- Fish Out of Water, whose head is encased in a water-filled diving helmet -- simply burbles. (AH)

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