Premiered November 1, 2013.
"We're going back in time to the first Thanksgiving...to get turkeys off the menu!"
A turkey named Reggie (Owen Wilson) lives on a poultry farm. He discovers that the farmers are fattening turkeys up just to turn them into meals. When Reggie informs the other turkeys about their fate, they cruelly oust him from the barn to fend for himself rather than listen. Reggie's misfortune winds up being a windfall as he is chosen to receive the President's annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon.
|Reggie is chosen as the Pardon Turkey|
|Reggie enjoys cheese pizza and telenovelas|
|Jake is fanatically devoted to a prophecy he received from "The Great Turkey"|
Jake says he knows where they can steal a time machine from a military base conveniently located near Camp David. (Said time machine is called S.T.E.V.E and is voiced by George Takei!)
|Reggie and Jake travel through time|
|Standish threatens Governor Bradford|
So our heroes find themselves embroiled (pun intended?) in the turkey clan's struggle for survival against Standish who is determined to find their hiding place at any cost and the rest of the Pilgrims who are just plain HUNGRY.
Can Reggie and Jake save future turkeys from their annual thanksgiving holocaust?
Here is the official trailer for your perusal:
J.A. Morris says:
I'm not the intended demographic, but I thought Free Birds was okay. Some reviewers have called it Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, but with turkeys" and that's an accurate description. But the voice actors are top notch and Reggie is a likable protagonist.
|Jenny & Reggie observe Earth from the time machine.|
|The "kids" love Reggie.|
I don't want to spoil the plot, but there is a serious (for a kids movie) death scene that might upset younger viewers. The subsequent turkey funeral scene was actually very moving, you might find yourself tearing up (like I did).
The real, historical Miles Standish was noted for using excessive force at times, and that's on display here as well. If this blog was a scholarly journal article, I would suggest that turkeys are standing in for Indians who were victims of Standish's brutality...but it's not, so I won't.
|Tukeys prepare to battle the Pilgrims.|
But it feels longer than necessary. There's an opening segment that shows how Reggie is a bit of a misfit, which feels like padding. The movie could have just opened with his Thanksgiving pardon and the story would've worked just as well. There are also some "fight" scenes between Ranger and Jake that don't seem to serve any purpose.
Like other recent animated features, Free Birds has pop culture references that aren't likely to age well. We even hear the turkeys called "angry birds" at one point.
|Reggie arrives at Camp David|
If you're a big 3D fan like me, don't bother seeing the 3D version. I didn't notice anything that was particularly enhaned by the 3D technology. This was disappointing, since Free Birds was shot in "real" 3D, not just "retrofitted".
With Christmas movies (and countless new tv specials) released every year, Thanksgiving films are comparatively rare. So Free Birds is a nice addition to Holiday seasonal programming. And I imagine it acting as a "video babysitter" during Thanksgiving Dinner preparations in the next few years. It's a fun, harmless movie, but it's no classic.
I generally agree with what J.A. Morris has to say about this film. It is an agreeably goofy, but somewhat forgettable holiday offering. The voice talents are great and the computer animation is very good. However, the story, while appealing in concept, is rather lackluster in the execution, which is a shame. If one is going to do a movie featuring time traveling turkeys, I feel one should make more hay out of the possibilities for paradox inherent. (Did they think the concept would be too difficult for kids to understand?)
Free Birds is not a complete "turkey", but it is probably not something that will become a perennial favorite.
2 pumpkin pies