Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

After Ginger (voice of Thandiwe Newton, replacing Julia Sawalha) and Rocky (voice of Zachary Levi, replacing Mel Gibson) move their community to a safe island, they hatch an adorable chick named Molly (voice of Bella Ramsey).  The over-protective Ginger tells her daughter she must never go to the other side of the river, yet never tells her why, so when Molly reaches those rebellious years just around the time a truck emblazoned with Fun-Land Farms is spotted on the mainland, she runs right toward danger in “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.”

Laura's Review: C

It is saddening to see Aardmann deliver its first major disappointment, a sequel over twenty years in coming that is utterly devoid of imagination.  While it was understandable why Mel Gibson would be replaced as Rocky, the first red flag was learning that ‘AbFab’ alum Julia Sawalha was recast against her will.  The stop motion animation, written by "Chicken Run's" Karey Kirkpatrick & John O'Farrell and "Military Wives'" Rachel Tunnard, does feature a chuckle here and there, like a literal Eye Pad to look up retinal scans, some gags, like Mac’s (voice of Lynn Ferguson) use of the Scottish endearment ‘hen’ likely to fly over the heads of most U.S. audiences.  But for the most part the film feels like it’s going through the motions and for the first time, CGI is readily evident in what were once entirely handmade creations.

The film begins with a recap of Ginger and Rocky’s ‘Great Escape’ from the evil Mrs. Tweedy’s (voice of Miranda Richardson) farm before introducing their island paradise, supplied by rats Nick (voice of Romesh Ranganathan) and Fetcher (voice of Daniel Mays) on river raft runs.  The gang’s mostly all here including Bunty (voice of Imelda Staunton), Babs (voice of Jane Horrocks) and Fowler (voice of David Bradley), all doting on the young Molly.  When loggers are spotted across the river, followed by trips by that ominous truck, Ginger initiates Operation Lie Low, but Molly only sees fun and adventure and so ventures off, quickly meeting up with Frizzle (voice of Josie Sedgwick-Davies) who saves her from being run over and joins her in boarding that truck to Fun-Land.

While we see a development that looks like a Bond villain’s mountainous lair encircled by an electrified fence, they are deposited in a contrived pen that looks like a poultry version of Barbieland.  But soon Molly notices the other happy chickens appear brainless (in a ‘borrow’ of Wallace’s Mind Manipulation-Omatic from “Curse of the Were-Rabbit”) and the much celebrated ‘wins’ which are occasionally announced are like a trip up a sacrificial Mayan staircase to nugget processing. 

Of course there is a big rescue mission and if 2000’s “Chicken Run” riffed on “The Great Escape,” this one is, as one character notes, an ‘impossible mission.’  Other films from “The Truman Show” to “Toy Story 3” are recycled as we’re left wondering just why Molly and Frizzle were so entranced by the concept of sitting in a bucket.   And Tweedy reappears, now the wife and power behind the throne of the plant’s Dr. Fry (voice of Nick Mohammed), but by the time she does I was past caring.  “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget” may still exhibit craft in its clay chickens with teeth but its narrative creativity is toothless.

Robin's Review: C

It has been 23 years since Ginger the hen (Thandiwe Newton) and Rocky the rooster(Zachart Levi) hatched a plan to save the rest of the flock from the greedy machinations of Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson). Now, safe on their island sanctuary, a new danger, the Fun-land Farms, threatens even more chickens and a rescue mission is put into play to save the new flock in “Chicken Run: The Dawn of the Nugget.”

One might think, after over two decades, that the sequel to Aardman Animations’ very popular “Chicken Run (2000)” would be a worthy successor to the clever and funny original. Unfortunately, it is not.
What starts out as a good idea – Ginger and Rocky have founded a chicken utopia where life is good for the friendly fowl – drops the ball. The first film, where the lives of the flock are endangered by the sinister, money-grubbing Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy, had a “Great Escape” vibe that was both exciting and a great deal of fun.

This latest from Aardman, while having all of the basic elements of the first, like the various characters takes on a “Mission: Impossible” tone. The flock, safe and camouflaged on their island, have a new member - Ginger and Rocky’s first baby, Molly. The new chick is a chip of the old block – her mom – and has the same adventurous spirit.

Molly’s youthful curiosity drives the chick to want to explore the world outside of the sanctuary. Of course, mom and dad are dead set against the idea, but that does not sway the youngster from going on an adventure. Molly puts her plan into play and sneaks off the island. Ginger and Rocky, you know, will follow.

This begins the rescue tale as mom, dad and daughter, and the rest of their flock, set out to free their captive sisters across the water. The subtitle, “Day of the Nugget,” tells it all as to what is in store for the endangered chickens, so there are no surprises. Instead, you get exactly what you expect as the rescue team goes through all of the harrowing machination to save the captives.

The problem I have is, none of it is exciting and just going through the motions to the expected end: the bad guy (Mrs, Tweedy rears her greedy head again) loses and the good guys go to chicken utopia. I could have done without it. “Chicken Run: Day of the Nugget” was not worth the wait and is a shallow copy of Aardman’s much better work.

Netflix releases "Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget" in select theaters on 12/8/23.  It begins streaming on 12/15/23.