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Chicken People (DVD)

Manufacturer: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided NewTechReview with a NFR unit of this product for review.
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
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“Chicken may be just food for most people, but raising the perfect chicken is an all-consuming passion for some. Chicken People, a New York Times Critics’ Pick, details the trials and tribulations of those who breed exotic birds in the world of competitive poultry. The film follows three remarkably diverse personalities whose shared passion of raising the perfect chicken brings them together in competition. From the Ohio National Poultry Show, considered the Westminster of Chickens, to the Dixie Classic in Tennessee, the movie chronicles the struggles and triumphs of the primary protagonists, along with a wide array of competitors, both human and chicken.” That is the official description of director Nicole Lucas Haimes’ Chicken People, now available on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Now when I first heard about this film, I thought it was either going to be a comedy or a parody, but I was happy to see that it’s actually a serious documentary. Some of the scenes can be quirky, but they are not condescending in any way. The people covered in this film really love what they do and treat their chickens just like they would any other pet. I can somewhat relate because my family did own chickens when I was a kid. We owned about 2 acres of land and one day my parents decided it would be nice to have fresh eggs every morning, hence the building of a coup and the arrival of a brood of chickens. In that brood were two very special chickens. I say special because they didn’t act like most chickens, which is to be fearful of humans and a bit wild. These two chickens were more like pets. My brother and I named them Pumpkin and Tweety and we spent time with them just like we would with the family dog or cat. We even brought them inside the house and they would quietly lay in our laps while we watched TV. So while I’ve never had an overwhelming fascination with chickens, I can understand how other people might.

In Chicken People, we’re introduced to Shari McCollough, Brian Caraker, and Brian Knox. These three people are very dedicated to the hobby of breeding and raising chickens for show, and their reasons for doing so are revealed through some very personal moments. Shari got involved with showing chickens as a means of dealing with her recovery from alcoholism. Her feathered friends keep her focused and positive about everyday life without having to use drinking as an escape. Being involved with chickens allowed Brian Caraker to cope with being bullied and teased in high school. And Brian Knox has been interested in chickens since he was a kid. Today he is an engineer who loves the science involved in breeding the perfect bird. Chicken People takes us through parts of the daily lives of these three people and shows us just how much is involved in raising birds for show.

Unfortunately, the DVD only provides the movie itself. There are no bonus features. Of course, since this is a documentary, we’re already getting a sort of behind-the-scenes look at the main subject, but it still would be nice to see some featurettes of how this story was developed and what was involved in the filming and production.

Still the movie itself is a fun and interesting look into the people and world of competitive show chickens. So, if you’re at all interested in chickens or animal shows in general, then I think you’ll enjoy Chicken People. It’s not an overly exciting film, but it’s definitely interesting and by the end you’ll be hoping that one of these nice people will win Grand Champion of Show.

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