The Wacky Hen review – circus comedy is a flightless flop

Despite a laudable ethical stance on performing animals, this family animation’s zero-to-hero tale fails to engage

This animated Argentinian-Spanish co-production offers a pretty undistinguished tale of a zero-to-hero talking creature (a scrawny, bug-eyed hen named Turuleca, voiced by Elisabeth Gray) who joins the circus and becomes a star – though it’s fair to say that the character, lighting and set designs are often striking. Even so, most of the nice, more-central-to-the-plot characters are very bland, while Turuleca herself is an emphatically hideous creation. On the other hand, there’s a higher degree of craft to the villains and secondary cast members, with their gargoyle faces and stylised figures.

The opening act, where our avian heroine is acquired by sweet little old retired music teacher Isabel (Roxanne Bachmann), seems to augur the usual hyper-idealised view of farm life. But when Isabel falls off a roof and has to go to hospital to recover from amnesia, things kick up a notch: Turuleca, on her way to find her mistress, falls in with a troupe of circus folk.

The dancing, songs and assorted circus-y antics strike a nice balance between the fantastic possibilities of the cartoon form and enough verisimilitude to keep more literal-minded kids engaged. And it’s a nice touch that this very modern, ethical circus won’t use animal acts because animals can’t give their consent – a rule that’s cleverly circumvented here by having a sentient, talking chicken as its protagonist.

The voice acting from the cast for this dubbed-into-US-accented English version is also serviceable if not particularly outstanding. At least the maladroit song translations from Spanish into English create hilariously inept lyrics that sometimes don’t even bother to rhyme.

• The Wacky Hen is available on digital platforms from 25 January.


Leslie Felperin

The GuardianTramp

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