Review: Free Birds
A self-aware pardoned turkey teams up with a bird who believes he is destined for greatness in order to alter the course (har har) of Thanksgiving. Infiltrating a government base, they capture a time machine, travel back to the 17th century, and attempt to lead a revolution of turkeys against the hungry and hunting settlers.
Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson lend their voices to the two main turkeys, but Amy Poehler and George Takei are the funniest.
There is a lot of going on in this family-oriented animated fare, but amid all the action, assorted jokes, and a convoluted plot, there is no message. What would seem initially about a story dealing with respecting nature and eating healthy then transforms into a story that would seem to be about life in the 17th century leading up to the first Thanksgiving. It’s about neither, and not really about much of anything.
So instead it relies on visual stimuli (with superfluous 3D) and a couple laugh-out-loud quips, all of which are disjointed compiled together in what will be slightly satisfying to the young crowd. The sights and sounds should distract children, because surely the story is a bit complex. It begins with a savvier and purple-headed turkey named Reggie who knows the horrible fate of all turkeys, and the massacre that is Thanksgiving Day.
Fortunately for him, upon his capture ahead of the big feast, he is pardoned by the President of the United States and befriended by his manic daughter. It’s at Camp David that Reggie meets Jake, a dumb and proud militant turkey who is compelled to lead a revolution. The two form an oddball couple that isn’t as much fun as it should be, with jokes riffing on their physical and mental differences.
They come across a time machine (of course), a piece of machinery voiced thankfully by George Takei, who is probably the funniest thing about the film, at least for adults (hard to imagine young children are aware of the infectious comedy of Takei and his Internet fandom). A trip to a different time and place forces the birds to confront their purpose in life and the fate of their species – sort of.
Convenient and simplistic, Free Birds doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers whatsoever, only in the briefest of moments becoming the least bit serious. With a chance to strike a chord and maintain a purpose, this animated feature is passing fare, lacking in charm and unsure of step.
Should You See It?
For children this will pass the time, but soon be forgotten. For parents, there is nothing here.