Free Birds is an oddball film in more ways than one. Yes, it’s about time travelling turkeys on a mission to save turkey-kind from Thanksgiving. Yes, it pairs Owen Wilson with Woody Harrelson and yes, the screenplay was co-written by the guy responsible for helping Kevin Smith forge a career with a string of Indie Slacker Comedies.
Reggie (Wilson) lives on a turkey farm with all the other turkeys. They’re quite happy with the way things are but he’s not convinced. Born a cut smarter (only just) than the rest of them, he gets the feeling they’re being used. Events transpire that lead him to meeting Jake (Harrelson), a complete nutcase who recruits Reggie to travel in a time machine named S.T.E.V.E. (George Takei) back to the days leading up to the first Thanksgiving in a bid to lead the turkeys in a revolution against humanity. There they meet Jenny (Amy Poehler) and the adventure begins.
If that last paragraph hasn’t sold you on the idea, I honestly don’t know what will. What else is good? Oh yeah, it’s got Colm Meaney in there delivering a convincingly menacing human that’s bent on the hunt for food in the form of turkeys as well.It’s one of those family films that is supposed to have wide appeal (using the Shrek template) but in that respect I feel like it kind of misses the mark. Although I was quite entertained by this time travel buddy movie with a slew of references to its inspirations, I just don’t think there’s enough in there to get kids excited about it and animation-wise, it looks just cheap enough to turn adults (who care about that sort of thing) off it too. That said, it was produced with a budget about one third that of Kung Fu Panda so it’s no surprise that it’s not quite up to scratch.
This movie will most likely fall into the same group of films that past Scott Mosier-produced films have – a decent enough flick to pass the time through a hangover of some sort but not enough for it to become something that kids and adults alike will remember with fondness in years to come.