Review: Free Birds

Absent of humor and thrills, it’s also accented with designs and color schemes that are equally notable for their lack of risk.

Free Birds
Photo: Relativity Media

Free Birds is a softly eccentric yarn chronicling the adventures of two fast-talking turkeys, Reggie and Jake (Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson), who travel back to the first Thanksgiving in a George Takei-voiced time machine. Their mission: to prevent turkey-kind from being the protein of choice during the holiday season. While Reggie, an outcast from his rural flock, romances Jenny (Amy Poehler), daughter of the turkey chieftain (Keith David), Jake spearheads an effort to evade the Pilgrims, fronted by Colm Meaney’s sneering hunter and Dan Fogler’s pudgy mayor, until the feast has passed. These hijinks, absent of humor and thrills, are accented with designs and color schemes that are equally notable for their lack of risk. Still, the film might have all passed for a shrug-worthy mediocrity if it didn’t crudely parallel the plight of the turkeys with that of Native Americans. The raid and attempted slaughter of the birds is treated unduly grim for a movie that features a gabby turkey that loves pizza and telenovelas, and when the Native Americans do show up, they’re reduced to a deadpan cutaway gag, watching the hysteric war between turkey and man—staged for the cinephiles in the crowd as a parody of Braveheart’s Falkirk battle—from afar. The whole thing is intended as innocent nonsense (there’s even turkey babies for a dash of cuteness), but by the time a stack of Chuck E. Cheese’s pies are delivered piping hot to the first Thanksgiving, the film can only be understood as a craven pander to box-office sales.

 Cast: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, George Takei, Colm Meaney, Keith David, Dan Fogler  Director: Jimmy Hayward  Screenwriter: Jimmy Hayward, Scott Mosier  Distributor: Relativity Media  Running Time: 91 min  Rating: PG  Year: 2013  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Chris Cabin

Chris Cabin co-hosts the popular We Hate Movies podcast.

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