Twenty-three years after the original film, Chicken Run is back! Whilst the first film is a love letter to The Great Escape, Dawn of the Nugget parodies Mission: Impossible and Oceans 8 of the later 20th century. In the long-waited sequel to the childhood classic, Ginger and Rocky are living peacefully in their island paradise with their tween daughter Molly, who longs for nothing more than to leave her idyllic life behind and seek adventure off the island. However, it all begins to devolve when Molly finds herself on a one-way trip to ‘Fun Land Farms’ with her new friend Frizzle, after running away from home. Hence, Ginger, Rocky and some familiar faces from the first film must now break in to rescue their daughter from the clutches of this new futuristic hellscape, that is later revealed to be run by Mrs Tweedy, and her new scientist husband Dr Fry.
The film is a love letter to the original Aardman production, containing plenty of call backs to the first film through a mix of PTSD coded flashbacks from Ginger, as well as easter eggs from the 2000 hit alongside other Aardman works (bonus points to all those who spotted Feathers McGraw in the last shot of the film!). The film also indulges in one of my all-time favourite tropes in children’s media, which is recreating classic film callbacks and references through visual gags. There’s a few obvious examples of this, the Indiana Jones hat under the door gag, the Truman Show slow pan to the directorial team watching the main action, and even the addendum of the title, Dawn of the Nugget, is a direct spoof of the 1978 zombie horror film Dawn of the Dead, some cheeky foreshadowing of how Fun Land Farms puts its inhabitants into a zombie like trance in order to placate the chickens before slaughter.
The film is a love letter to the original Aardman production, containing plenty of call backs to the first film through a mix of PTSD coded flashbacks from Ginger, as well as easter eggs from the 2000 hit alongside other Aardman works
One aspect that has been critically undervalued in the discourse around this film, is the presentation of non-standard accents. Many characters have nonstandard accents such as Yorkshire and Lancastrian, Scouse and Southern estuary and Scottish. These accents are rarely seen in children’s media, even less so in a positive light. The villainous characters in the film speak in a very cold educated tone, even Mrs Tweedy who is clearly northern, and have no recognisable accent, instead speaking in standard southern or received pronunciation that we are used to in children’s media. Molly’s friends and family however, all speak in very distinct regional tones, which despite all being different are united in their rejection of the kind of English used by Mrs Tweedy and her cronies, thematically in line with their resistance against Tweedy’s machinations. Frizzle in particular, has a Scouse accent and her role as Molly’s best friend challenges popular depictions of Scousers in the media, as violent or rough individuals. Instead, Frizzle offers Molly nothing but friendship and warmth, one of the first Scouse characters in children’s media to be shown in such a light.
Many characters have nonstandard accents such as Yorkshire and Lancastrian, Scouse and Southern estuary and Scottish. These accents are rarely seen in children’s media, even less so in a positive light.
Overall, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is an enjoyable, egg-citing and fun family film that can be enjoyed by all ages. Watching the first film before this is encouraged, but the filmmakers have done an excellent job of making this as a standalone film, as well as an excellent sequel to an already stand out film.