Season 1: Deconstructing Disney (for Adults) Or… Rationalizing Disney Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Alternative Themes Found in Disney Films That Provide Lessons and Parallels for Adults.
Ep 6 : Chicken Little
Disney’s Chicken Little is a therapist’s wet dream. A psycho therapist maybe. Nonetheless, it is also one of Disney’s subtextually lazier films. Usually, they are not so overt when it comes to tying the social commentary to a crisis in the world. Though Disney does that better than most, I was not as jaded as other films in the filmography. That could be due to the crux of the film being linked to extraterrestrial circumstances. Circumstances that just don’t take place in this life. Another conclusion can be, the commentary is too loud to hide. Chicken Little explores the fractured parent-child dynamic. Though dressed as a sci-fi story; the subtext is not so alien.
The stage is set from the beginning, an assumed misfire from Chicken Little leaves him in the proverbial doghouse with father, Buck Cluck for years to come. What was coined, “…the day that took a turn for the worst…”, Chicken Little’s potential breakthrough is entirely derailed by his own father. After becoming the laughing stock of the town, Chick Little is constantly reminded of his snafu from not only the town but, yes, his own father en route to school. How soon the congruencies show themselves. The issue clear as day, parenting. Good ol’ Buck in particular, is a terrible parent. The film exists because of Buck. Had Chicken Little won the town over, the invasion would arguably have been stopped there with the aliens being spotted. Instead, Buck embarrasses his son on local television. Inevitably leading to the following scene, some time later, with the town cashing in on the hysteria and lovable Buck doing his absolute best to drag Chicken Little through the mud with every sentence. As a single twenty something male, I’m not sure how difficult it is raise a child but I cannot imagine it would entail completely going out of the way to soil my own seed.
Like any semi rational child looking for love from their parents, they will go to almost any length. Also like any semi rational child, they want to make them proud. Both these things can be said about Chicken Little, who plots how to finally escape that doghouse once and for all with his pal, Abby, during a tense dodge ball showdown. Parenting is tricky. I imagine there is some level of empathy that must come with the territory. Though Buck is truly negligent for never addressing such a stressor with his son, we can do better. Buck’s impressionism toward Chicken Little gets exponentially worrisome once he fears of being viewed as a “loser” in his Father’s world. Very sad to hear though this sentiment rings true. We’ve fretted over the opinion parents have of us at ages too young to understand the gravity of the notion. An unfortunate byproduct of the expanding maturing brain or the realization that the ones that brought us into this world are not so sure how to guide us through it.
We almost feel bad for Chicken Little. We wouldn’t let our own friends jump through all the hoops. Yet here we are, borderline cringing as Chicken Little comes up with his latch ditch solution to salvage his relationship with his dad, join the baseball team. At this point, Buck somehow finds a way to care even less. Father of the year material. Granted, dealing with the loss of a parent is a particular type of loss, I can never see someone of Buck’s character try so hard to be a living ghost in their child’s life. Can Buck not see Chloe in Chicken Little? Does Buck not see how many problems that disappear by just being a proper anchor in his son’s life? The answer is a glaring no as his actions show at Chicken Little’s baseball game versus the Spud Valley Taters. It is common for parents to be overwhelmingly excited to see their child on the field no matter how small. Buck is so distraught from the moment the announcer calls his son’s name. Beyond appalling. The brave Chicken Little absorbs criticism better than the man preceding him as he fought through the ear beating from his coach and swung at the pitch. Buck’s varying reactions from the hit to Chicken Little’s run is sad to say the least. The bum barely moves from his seat once the umpire calls him safe and it is only THEN Buck Cluck claims Chicken Little as his boy.
Disney’s Chicken Little is without a doubt one of the more quirkier worlds. Unfortunately, it is without memorable side characters or even a catchy soundtrack tune. It’s the spot on subtext they shove in our faces. Parenting is no easy feat. However with a personality like Chicken Little’s, it could not have been any easier for Buck Cluck. At every possible turn Buck has shaded Chicken Little. These errors are so egregious that even with the large gap in the middle on the scant 80 minute-ish story, that by time Buck is back to his old follies it’s entirely too soon. Disney we get it, parenting is hard. Understanding your ever growing offspring is entirely comparable to an extraterrestrial ordeal. What makes Chicken Little so hard to sit through is what makes it so relatable as well. Creating the brooding contempt we hold over our own Buck-Chicken Little dynamics. Well that, and using Runt to spoil Star Wars for people in 2005, when Chicken Little released. But what makes the film most satisfying is watching Chicken Little buckle up, saving the town, and finally getting the closure he deserves.
**The beauty of parenthood; seeing your children accomplish goals in ways the parents themselves can’t possibly conceive. A revelation more must come to grips with in an rapidly advancing tech age.