Review: Free Birds

Free_Birds_posterFrances Winston feels that this animation may amuse the younger viewer, but won’t leave any lasting impression

Directed by: Jimmy Hayward –  Starring the voices of: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, Dan Fogler, Lesley Nicol, George Takei, Colm Meaney.

We may not celebrate Thanksgiving here, but everyone is familiar with the idea, so will understand why turkey Reggie (Wilson) is terrified of the holiday, lest he find himself on the menu.

Thankfully for him, in a strange twist of fate, he finds himself the turkey that is pardoned by the President, and is brought to Camp David, where he lives the high life, ordering pizza and watching TV.

Settling into his new easy life, he is shocked when he is kidnapped by Jake (Harrelson) a few days before the holiday. Jake is the leader of the Turkey Liberation Front, and claims that the Great Turkey told him to find Reggie and bring him back to the first-ever Thanksgiving, so that they can ensure that turkeys never end up on the menu.

Thanks to a time machine known as S.T.E.V.E. (Takei) they find themselves back in 1621, where the settlers are hungry. Chased down by Myles Standish (Meaney) the pair find themselves rescued by native turkeys, whose leader, Chief Broadbeak, has a daughter Jenny (Poehler) who immediately catches the eye of Reggie.

However, if they can’t destroy the colonists’ weapons to ensure that they can’t hurt turkeys, there may be no future for any of them. With Jenny reluctant to believe his story about being from the future, his penchant for an easy life, and the mysterious Great Turkey’s instructions hanging over him, will Reggie actually manage to survive the inaugural Thanksgiving?

This is obviously aimed at a seasonal market, and like many movies of that ilk, it suffers from the laziness that a guaranteed audience brings. It starts out well, but quickly descends into animation by numbers. The visuals are nothing spectacular, given some of the fantastic animations released of late, and the story is quite convoluted. You can see plot points coming a mile away, and at times it is quite preachy about people’s decisions to eat turkey in the holidays. Many of the jokes here fall flat and are predictable, and the whole thing is rather uninspiring.

This will amuse the mini-me’s, but is unlikely to leave any lasting impression, and it definitely won’t inspire people to change their holiday food fare. This was a clever premise, but poor execution and average animation mean that it falls rather flat unfortunately.

 You’ll like this if you liked: Chicken Run, Arthur Christmas

In Cinemas Now!

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