Free Birds Review: A Real Turkey of a Talking Picture

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REGGIE (Owen Wilson, left) and JAKE (Woody Harrelson, right) in Relativity Media’s “FREE BIRDS.” Image Courtesy of Relativity Media.

Benjamin Derisavi, Writer

(LHS Imprint) – It’s incredibly easy for one to balk at the concept behind a film like “Free Birds.” Two intrepid turkeys go back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu.

But in Jimmy Hayward’s (“Horton Hears a Who”) animated comedy film, co-written by Scott Mosier (“The Grinch”), the characters just keep encouraging each other to slow down. They’re always speaking fast, acting swift and sprinting loudly to accomplish their goal of going back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu.

The scenario is simple, but the characters most certainly aren’t. Reggie (Owen Wilson, “Cars”) is a blue-headed and magenta-crested turkey who sees through the guise of his comfortable and enclosed life on the farm, as he’s the only turkey aware enough to understand what truly happens when the farmer comes and goes, grabbing a couple of his fellow potential butterballs and whisking them away to “turkey heaven.”

Eventually, though, and following a near-death experience at the hands of a meat processor, Reggie is bequeathed the honor of a presidential pardon and taken to Camp David, where he is then taken by Jake (Woody Harrelson, “Venom”) to a giant egg-shaped time machine (George Takei, “Adventure Time”), and after much deliberation, is eventually persuaded to join the mission to go back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu.

As absurd as all this plot about going back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu sounds, plotwise, “Free Birds” is fast, smart and filled with witty humor and hilarious digressions. The film doesn’t treat its subject of going back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu with a complete and total rejection of some harsh realities, as the story about two turkeys going back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu can very easily become entangled in the actualities of the annual human consumption of these feathered friends. Jake’s story becomes particularly rueful as the discovery behind his destiny (of which I will not spoil) is revealed on his journey to go back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu.

Even after the movie, and even after we’ve seen our turkey protagonists go back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu, is “Free Birds” really going to change a few minds on Thanksgiving to give up the foul for some roasted brussel sprouts or fennel salad? Probably not. But it doesn’t mean, “Free Birds” should be passed on so easily, though.

Free Birds is a great, funny, and heart-warming story and is an experience I’d recommend to any age, or just anybody who loves a simple comedy animation flick. I say this because even after our titular turkeys go back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu, our story demonstrates, in my opinion, an incredibly important lesson for everybody’s life– No matter who you are, you are capable of achieving great things in your future, regardless of your past.