26 September 2017



In cinemas September 29th

Total Film - ★★★★ 'Like a real-life Best in Show'
Time Out - 'charming, gently funny and includes just the right number of chicken puns'
The Upcoming -★★★★★ ' A cracking documentary'
Film News -★★★★
Backseat Mafia - 'Charming, funny and bizarrely fascinating'

Why did the chicken cross the road? I can't tell you now, it's eggs-tremely sensitive information. Ah, what the hell. I'll spill the beans, which would actually go quite nicely with a few eggs right about now. I feel a bit... heh-heh-heh... peck-ish, geddit?

So, why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the building where the judges were, see, so that one of them could be judged 'best in show' and then their owner could look down their noses on the losers. Um, you're not laughing. It must be the way I tell 'em...

This is possibly the most unusual topic I've seen covered by a documentary this year. It's more of a flock-umentary, in fact, as it concerns chickens and only chickens. If you're looking for a film about cats, motorcycles or the relationship between Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, you are in for a serious disappointment. This film is only about chickens. Nothing else.

It's actually the promotional material for the film that uses the pun 'flockumentary,' but I'm reliably informed that a gathering of chickens is known rather adorably, not as a flock, but as a 'peep.' A peep of chickens.

Because they go 'peep-peep' when they're babies and make the sweetest little tweeting noises, see? So cute. Far be it from me to correct the movie bigwigs but I believe that the word 'flock' refers to sheep and widdle baa-lambs, the only animals on Earth cuter than baby chicks.

Anyway, this film follows the chook-crazy members of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club in New Zealand as they prepare to show their prize chooks at the New Zealand National Show. It's a competitive poultry pageant, if you can believe that, and the chickens' owners treat it as seriously as if it's Miss Universe or something. Crazy, crazy people. Crazy but nice, and even quite sweet at times.

The club's been going for, like, one hundred and fifty years, making it older than most of the Premier League footy clubs in England. It's even older than the Queen of England, who is herself quite ancient. It's been run for much of that time by Doug Bain, a cuddly auld fella in a jumper who lives to show his chickens at the National Show.

This is the fella who, when asked what had initially drawn him to a lifetime of raising chickens, hilariously replied: 'Nothing really. I had to have a hobby when I was younger.' Well, the devil does make work for idle hands to do. Better off raising chickens than jerking off solo in your room every night, I guess...!

I loved Doug. He's so into chickens and the Chicken Club that it does your heart good to see it. But he has major concerns that the club of which he's been President since the mid-Nineteenth century (only kidding) is being brought low by the back-biting, in-fighting, and petty squabbling of the members. He considers the club to be in crisis and is even considering stepping down as Head Rooster, an unthinkable step for a man who lives for his chickens and the meetings of the Chicken Club.

I loved Brian Glassey too, another lovely auld fella who's been raising chickens for fifty years, and Mark Lilley, who has the dreamiest blue eyes. If Doug represents the old order in this chicken run, then Mark is the younger, up-and-coming new broom who might be planning to sweep cleaner than poor old Doug is able for. Is it time for Doug to move gracefully aside and allow the blue-eyed boy to lead the club into the future...?

So, what exactly makes a chicken 'best in show,' anyway? I'm eggs-tremely keen to impart to you guys some of the knowledge I've gleaned from this film. Judges look for weird things that only chicken-lovers would understand, things like 'great retraction in the wing' and a chook's being 'beautifully presented and classic in type.' Whatever that means.

They also look for something they call 'a nicely balanced bird.' Nicely balanced between the peas and carrots and a few roast potatoes, heh-heh-heh. Oh, and you gotta make sure that your chicken doesn't have have any purple feathers nestling cosily among the green ones, because apparently 'purple is a no-no.' That'll certainly be one in the eye for anyone who ever thought that a chicken was yellow...!

I swear I saw one of the chicken-botherers putting make-up on his cock before the show. I mean, his chicken. It's important to take good care of your cock and give it a nice bath in warm water and a good scrubbing with Lux Flakes and Sunlight soap. Then you must dry your cock gently with a hairdryer or blow-heater, or you could let it dry naturally in front of the fire. Bathing two or three cocks at a time is the recommended amount of cocks, actually.

Some of the quotes from the film are quite funny and pithy. Pithy in the sense that it would be a terrible pithy not to share some of the best ones with you guys here. Good old Doug says of the judges at the all-important National Show: 'There are some good judges, and some of them need to smarten up their footwork a bit.' Good old Doug, always with le mot juste, or is it le bon mot...?

Someone else remarks: 'My wife says that I love them (the chickens) more than her, and sometimes she's right.' Someone won't be getting any sex from the missus when this film airs. Another guy says: 'Poultry showing is very competitive. There are a lot of people around here that don't like being beaten.' Jesus, the deadly seriousness of it all. If you thought the American beauty pageant circuit was a dog-eat-dog world, then you need to watch this film and have your eyes opened to some real competitiveness.

My favourite quote is the one from the guy who says: 'Breeding chickens is like breeding children. Some people breed beautiful children, and some people breed not-so-beautiful children.' Yes, you can get ugly kids the way you can get an ugly chicken occasionally, but at least you don't have to pay through the nose to put your ugly cock through college, that's the way I look at it.

I know what I want for Christmas, by the way. I want Ian Selby's book NEW ZEALAND POULTRY STANDARDS, that's what I want. Apparently, this book is to chicken-fanciers what VOGUE is to fashionistas and FEATHERED WORLD and THE POULTRY JOURNAL are to, well, chicken-fanciers. It looks like a right riveting read, honestly.

I started this review by asking you guys a question. We were all scratching our heads- or our coxcombs- in puzzlement as to why the chicken crossed the road. Well, it was in fact for the bizarre reason which I gave at the beginning, but it was to the accompaniment of some rather uplifting bagpipe music and it's all in aid of finding out who's cock of the walk and which of the little chickadees has the coveted 'Eggs Factor' and has won their place in the history books of New Zealand chicken-lovers for all time. And who's won their place on the Sunday dinner table because they've bleedin' well gone and lost, haha.

It would be eggs-tremely inappropriate of me, not to mention unsporting, to reveal the ultimate winner. I'll just finish by saying that PECKING ORDER is the most fun you'll ever have watching a bunch of bird-fanciers talking about nothing but chickens for ninety minutes. It'll be in cinemas on Sept. 29th and you'd have to be pure nuts to miss it.

Wait a minute. Nuts is more of a pun to use when you're gabbing about monkeys. This is clearly a film about sheep. I mean, chickens. It's a film about chickens. We'll try again. You'd have to be quackers to miss it. There, that's better. Watch the film. Peace and love to all my feathered (and non-feathered) friends. xxx


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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