Just in time for Thanksgiving comes the family friendly Free Birds. This cute cartoon adventure movie is fun for the kids, and probably won’t annoy the parents. It has all the right ingredients for an excellent kid’s film.
In Free Birds Reggie (Owen Wilson) and Jake (Woody Harrelson) are time traveling turkeys with one goal in mind, to get turkey off the Thanksgiving menu. They hijack the government’s top secret, turkey sized, egg shaped time machine (voiced by George Takei) and fly back to Plymouth Colony in 1621. There, they meet up with some Native American turkeys and participate in a little bit of early civil disobedience.
Free Bird was directed by Jimmy Hayward, who can be either really good (Horton Hears a Who) or really bad (Jonah Hex). In this case, it kind of falls in between.
This is not going to be one of those big cartoony blockbusters that create riots at WalMart as parents fight over the last Jimmy the Turkey Doll. This isn’t Shrek. It’s barely Chicken Run. It’s cute, but it’s one of those movies that adults will only see because their kids are dragging them to it.
Also, for a movie about the first Thanksgiving, Native American’s were significantly underrepresented. For a movie that could have had an intelligent political message (like Horton Hears a Who), it instead relies on site gags and forcing plot lines in order to land….like forcing the plotline that there actually was turkey at the first Thanksgiving. There wasn’t.[more…]
It feels like Free Birds was made in a hurry, which seems about right considering the timing that it was released. The writing falls flat and the jokes are recycled. There is none of the cleverness you generally find in good g-rated animated movies.
The actors were good. Owen Wilson as the smart bird Reggie was a good choice. Woody Harrelson plays one hell of a crazy turkey…who knew. Amy Poehler shows and gives a few good scenes as well.
The animation was adorable and well done, though some of the turkeys looked a bit like pigeons. However, this is a movie where clearly the animation was skillfully executed. The baby turkeys were so damn cute, it will make you never want to eat turkey again.
The problem wasn’t the premise, which was clever (though inaccurate). It wasn’t the casting or the animation. The problem was the lack of good jokes and good dialog. The problem was with the script itself, which seems like it was thrown together. This might be related to the writer of the movie, Scott Mosier. Mosier is a Kevin Smith collaborator, meaning he works on raunchy adult focused comedies. The only animation credit to his name was the animated series Clerks, which was a raunchy adult animated series only suitable for Adult Swim. I just don’t think this guy can write g-rated.
In short, Free Birds is one of those movies that your kids will take you to by force. You will watch the cute turkeys and get a few chuckle worthy moments, but I really don’t see it turning into a major animated blockbuster. It will probably do well, because of its seasonal nature and it’s one of the few animated kids options out there…but it will probably ruin your appetite for turkey.
Watch the Trailer Below.