Refreshing fun from the chicken coop


In a summer that has already seen its share of such bloated animated features as "Dinosaur" and 'Titan A.E.," it's nice to see a movie bring animation back to its handmade roots. "Chicken Run," which opens Friday, is by Aardman Animations' Nick Park (of "Wallace & Gromit" fame) and Peter Lord, who have become the world's greatest artists of clay animation in the last 10 years.

With its cast of spirited chickens (led by a heroic hen who tries desperately to break her peers out of their "Stalag 17"-like prison), its hilarious references to prison-break classics and its chick-power themes, "Chicken Run" is refreshingly low-tech fun for the whole family (although young kids might be horrified at scenes involving menacing axes and a very scary pot-pie machine.)

By the way, that's Mel Gibson playing a cocky Rhode Island Red.

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