Nick Park & Peter Lord, the Aardman/Clay-mation* guys behind those blissed out WALLACE AND GROMIT pics, are at their best in short-form films. But their feature-length stuff is nothing to sneeze at. This inspired send-up of P.O.W. pics (THE GREAT ESCAPE, STALAG 17, et al.) puts us inside an egg-laying gulag where the hens must hit their quota or face the ax. That’s bad enough, but the owners have a new money-making scheme: Chicken Pot Pies. It’s flee or fry. The sheer physical struggle in making this style of animation is almost as inspiring as the story being told. And because you can feel & occasionally see the effort, the joy of filmmaking becomes participatory. Those who flinch at having to hear Mel Gibson as Rocky, the star rooster, can pretend it’s George Clooney behind the microphone. They sound a lot alike. In fact, the leading hen, voiced by Julia Sawalha, could easily pass for Judi Dench.
*Okay, okay, they don’t use clay, it’s plasticine . . . whatever that is.