Unlike its predecessor, “Dawn of the Nugget” takes place removed from World War II, a few years later on. This enables Fell and the animators to do some charming visual riffs on mid-century style (akin to the set design in Pixar’s “Incredibles” sequel from 2018), especially once Tweedy’s true plan comes into focus. There’s some shared timeliness, too, in the new chicken-farming scheme Molly inadvertently discovers. Though the end result is the same as ever before, the chickens become vastly more docile to the point of being brainwashed and are located in an amazingly bright and colorful false world, accidentally recalling the first act of this summer’s smash hit “Barbie,” with its pastel colors and characters who are comfortable with a status quo scenario. 

The vocal shifts are largely unnoticeable, though fans may be disappointed that Sawalha was recast (with Gibson, you can imagine that his personal problems led to a change, but it’s not the case with his female co-star). Animation fans may laugh at another inadvertent parallel, as “Dawn of the Nugget” opens in weirdly similar fashion to “Tangled,” wherein a character voiced by Zachary Levi starts self-consciously telling us a story that isn’t about his character. Levi and Newton acquit themselves well, but arguably the best of the new performers is Mohammed as the helplessly nerdy Dr. Fry, who doesn’t realize exactly who or what Mrs. Tweedy really is but has plenty of enthusiasm to spare for the chicken farm he’s designed. 

But as always, the charms of Aardman’s stop-motion animation are not about timeliness, as much as they are about offering a distinctly different style of animation from the commonplace computer animation style evinced by Pixar and Disney. Back in 2000, Aardman felt like a breath of fresh air because “Chicken Run” avoided big, Broadway-style songs and even the classic buddy-comedy style of storytelling in films like “Toy Story” and “A Bug’s Life.” Now, there’s a wealth of animation options for audiences, from films like “Wish” and “Elemental” to last week’s Studio Ghibli film “The Boy and the Heron” and this past summer’s “Across the Spider-Verse.” Aardman still stands alone in this respect; even though “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget” is not their finest work, it serves as an important reminder to audiences and studios alike that the painstaking style of stop-motion animation may take a while to bear feature-length fruit, but the results are solidly entertaining nonetheless.

/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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