There have been so many monumental relationships in the history of film. Romeo and Juliet, Rose and Jack, Nick and Norah. But only one couple really matters. Only one couple will go down as cinema’s definitive pairing. I’m talking of course about Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy from the stop-motion masterpiece, Chicken Run. While most remember the Ginger/Rocky relationship, Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy were iconic, but in the worst way. Their relationship was physically, emotionally, and even sexually abusive, with all the abuse coming from Mrs. Tweedy.
I didn’t see Chicken Run until I was a senior in high school. Sad, I know. But this allowed me to view the film with a better understanding of thriving adult relationships, which the Tweedy’s do not have, at all. It’s also rare that the female is the abuser, so that makes the Tweedy dynamic even more intriguing.
Let’s begin with the physical abuse present in their relationship. For example, Mrs. Tweedy is constantly using her physical dominance against Mr. Tweedy. First, she hits him over the head with a clipboard after he accuses the chickens of being organized. She also kicks him in the butt after he initially fails to fix to pie machine. After that incident specifically, Mr. Tweedy literally has a footprint on his bum and verbally begs the machine to start up so he won’t get another beating. It’s clear that Mrs. Tweedy uses her physical dominance to intimidate him. She’s also like, what a foot taller than him, which is intimidating enough already. And does Mrs. Tweedy consider his feelings? No. She just demands that he be her mindless stooge.
Speaking of the mind, Mrs. Tweedy mentally abuses her husband to an extreme degree. When Mr. Tweedy suggests that the chickens are up to something, she tells him that it’s all in his head. Does she say this to protect his sanity? No. She blows him off because she “doesn’t want to hear another word about it.” But when it turns out that he was right, and the chickens were hatching an escape plan, Mrs. Tweedy finds herself covered in gravy and disappointment. That’s what she gets for not supporting her husband.
Also, it’s evident that cooperative decision making is nonexistent in their relationship. Mrs. Tweedy never asks her husband if he is on board with converting their egg farm into, well a chicken pie farm, she just goes ahead and orders a pie machine that he’s supposed to put together. And when Mr. Tweedy questions all this, she goes on to call his egg-farming ancestors “poor, worthless, nothings”. Mrs. Tweedy doesn’t even explain to Mr. Tweedy exactly what he’s building either, she just shoves the instruction manual in his chest. But Mr. Tweedy is so eager to please her that he just builds a chicken-killing pie machine without a second thought.
But perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Tweedy’s relationship is sexual abuse. Of course, Chicken Run is a family film, so the sexual dynamic of their relationship isn’t addressed too much. However, it is hinted at. After Mr. Tweedy successfully doubles the chickens’ food rations in order to fatten them up, he endures a non-consensual pinch on the bum from his wife. During this act, Mrs. Tweedy smiles maliciously and completely catches her husband off guard. This is the only instance of sexual abuse we witness in the film, but it is enough for me to wonder how badly Mr. Tweedy must suffer in the bedroom. But hey, it’s a kid’s movie, and maybe some waters are best left uncharted.
It’s no wonder Mr. Tweedy closed that barn door on his wife. (Sorry spoiler alert for a nearly twenty-year-old movie.) Mrs. Tweedy was abusive to her husband physically, mentally and sexually. But I’m going off what we see in the movie, who knows how terrible she is behind the scenes, how many dreams she’s crushed, how many scars Mr. Tweedy has. And maybe that’s not for us to find out. I could use a short film, television series or spinoff movie about these dysfunctional farmers. The story of how they met or some little insight into their lives outside the chickens would be entertaining, to say the least. And who knows? Maybe Chicken Run 2 will dive further into the Tweedy’s relationship. But for now, my dreams won’t be ruined by some greedy farmer’s wife.