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Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget


Stars: Voices: Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Bella Ramsey, Jane Horrocks, Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson, Daniel Mays, Romesh Ranganathan, David Bradley

Director: Sam Fell

The new Chicken Run is a seasonal treat, full of Aardman action and laugh-out-loud one-liners. And it has one of the most star-studded voice casts on record.

The plot has shades of Pinocchio: Alpha hen Ginger (now Newton, as Julia Sawalha's voice was considered too old) and rooster Rocky (Levi) are leading a life of connubial bliss on Chicken Island, with all the chickens they rescued from the earlier film.

Their first egg hatches and it's a girl chick called Molly (Ramsey), who yearns to explore beyond the island, while the rest keep their heads down, and Colonel Fowler (Bradley) warns that 'Careless squawks cost lives'. Molly, though, like Pinoke before her, escapes (via boat) to Pleasure Island, sorry Fun-Land Farms, where the fowl inhabitants play in their hundreds, before being turned into nuggets rather than donkeys, trooping zombie-like to the 'sunshine' at the top of an escalator.

Ginger determines on rescue. 'It's Go time,' she squawks. 'I went before I left,' Babs (Horrocks) reassures her.

Lending a hand are two ferryman rats (Mays, Ranganathan), who swipe most of the best lines. 'I haven't been so knackered,' gasps one, as the invasion begins, 'since I took a hamster wheel for a test drive'. And, planning to drive a truck before the eventual evacuation, one asks the other what gear he's in. 'Well,' replies Rat B, 'I thought it was smart casual.'

Inside Fun-Land Farms, though, an old enemy (Richardson), miraculously restored from a death fall at the end of Chicken Run, lurks in wait. Most of the voice work here is spot-on, although Newton's only just passes muster, with Sawalha's resolute tones much missed.

Down among the supporting voices, you might just catch those of Tim Bentinck and Alison Dowling, David and Elizabeth from radio's The Archers. At least they should know all about chickens.

In cinemas from 8 December, on Netflix from 15 December.

David Quinlan

UK 2023. UK Distributor: Netflix. Colour by Pictureshop.
98 minutes. Not Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 03 Dec 2023