‘Free Birds’ Review

Published 1 year ago by , Updated November 9th, 2014 at 6:18 pm,

free birds movie review Free Birds Review

Free Birds feels like the result of a meeting among studio executives, who just threw together every idea they could imagine.

Freed Birds tells the strange tale of Reggie (Owen Wilson), an unusually smart turkey whose attempts to get the other birds of his flock to realize the horrifying truth – their farmer master is fattening them all up for Thanksgiving dinner – fall upon deaf ears. One day, Reggie finds himself “pardoned” from his Thanksgiving responsibilities by the President of the United States; thereafter, our fowl hero gets to spend his days at Camp David, watching Spanish soap operas and eating Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza.

Then, without warning, Jake (Woody Harrelson) – a peculiar turkey who prides himself on his finely-sculpted… turkey glutes – drags Reggie away from his comfy and sedate newfound lifestyle, so that the pair can fulfill their true destiny: to travel back in time to the original Thanksgiving and get turkey off the holiday menu for good.

Directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who!, Jonah Hex) and co-written by Hayward and Scott Mosier – from a screen story credited to David I. Stern (Open Season 2 & 3) and John J. Strauss (The Santa Clause 2 & 3) – it goes without saying that Free Birds easily ranks among the most idiosyncratic and utterly odd movies released this year. While the 3D animated feature can be charming every so often (and goes by fairly quickly), it generally fails at being whimsical family-friendly entertainment; instead, it’s mostly just nonsensical and flat.

free birds movie wilson harrelson Free Birds Review

Reggie (Owen Wilson) and Jake (Woody Harrelson) in ‘Free Birds’

Hayward certainly makes a number of questionable creative choices that border on (or are) offensive – be it how turkeys from the 17th century dress like Native American stereotypes or a running joke that involves a “special” turkey (who is partly the offspring of a chicken). However, the politically-incorrect elements are ultimately just another reason why Free Birds will leave grown-up moviegoers scratching their head, as they try and figure out exactly what kind of Kool-Aid the filmmakers were drinking. Meanwhile, underage moviegoers will just appreciate all the turkey-based gags and physical comedy (nothing more or less).

Free Birds may be a hodgepodge work – in terms of themes and satire – but on the surface, the story and characters are mostly just boring and conventional. Anyone remotely familiar with time-travel story tropes will figure out the third act twists within the first 10-20 minutes (not an exaggeration); the same holds true for the various character arcs and relationships. Sadly, the movie has neither the heart nor the necessary spark of artistic madness, to make up for the perfunctory story design.

free birds movie wilson poehler Free Birds Review

Reggie (Owen Wilson) and Jenny (Amy Poehler) in ‘Free Birds’

What saves Free Birds from being a total waste are its cast members, who infuse their animated counterparts with far more life than the rubbery and B-grade Pixar quality animation deserves. Wilson brings his customary laid-back delivery style to the uninteresting role of Reggie (take it or leave it); meanwhile, Harrelson tackles his lines with enough dim-witted enthusiasm to make his character work. Indeed, one of the film’s best elements is the competitive bro-mance between Jack and the son of turkey Chief Broadbeak (Keith David, who never fails to bring some gravitas to even the silliest of voice-acting roles).

As for the rest of the supporting cast: Amy Poehler brings her usual, but welcome pluck and charisma as Jenny, the kind and intelligent turkey gal who Reggie falls for (despite a lame running joke that involves her eye becoming misaligned under stress). Lastly, Hayward does a good job of voicing multiple players – he received an “additional voice talent” credit for his efforts – and making each one unique, if only for a couple of lines. And, of course, we cannot forget the time machine – who goes by the acronym S.T.E.V.E. – as voiced by George Takei; and yes, he does eventually get to say that catchphrase.

Is Free Birds solid kids-friendly entertainment? No. Is is worth paying the extra ticket surcharge to see in 3D? Not really. At the end of the day, Free Birds feels like the result of a meeting among studio executives, who just threw together every idea they could imagine; that is, while attempting to create a Thanksgiving movie that would be an easy sell (or $ell) to families. The final result is a mess, for sure, but it could’ve been much worse (high praise, I know).

In case you’re still undecided, here is the trailer for Free Birds:

517978375 3 620 439 Free Birds Review


Free Birds is now playing in 2D and 3D theaters in the U.S. It is 91 minutes long and Rated PG for some action/peril and rude humor.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Free Birds
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  1. Man shopping in pet store:
    “I’d like to buy a bird, please.”
    Proprietor: “Cockatoo?”
    Man shopping: “No thanks, just the bird will do.”

    (Get it? Ca-ca, too? Hmmm. You are probably giving me a bird for that joke about now).

  2. Honestly, from the very first time I watched the trailer… I have zero interest in this movie. Not even the kids in my house feel the same way…
    Looks like it’s Turbo all over again

  3. I just get the same “preachy-ness” sense from it as I did “Chicken Run.”

    • Chicken Run was preachy?

      I thought it was The Great Escape but with chickens.

  4. I enjoyed it, and the kids I took loved it

    • I bet the kids’ parents were relieved when you returned them afterward?

  5. A childrens movie with a “don’t eat dead birds” theme makes makes me very happy. :) Factory farms are no laughing matter. If you visited where your turkey lived and died, you would not eat it, you would not feed it to your children, you would vomit.

  6. I can see the pitch in the boardroom right now… Angry Birds is selling like hot cakes (add follow up pitch here)

  7. Just saw the really cute 2nd trailer for this film (the one that has “Good Time” by Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen – love that song, but I digress) and I must say I think I might be more excited to take the kids I babysit to see this film than they are!

    Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson are great choices for voice actors, they’re both so distinct in their diction and really add a lot of life to the characters. This should be a fun one.

  8. How dumb can all these adult viewers be! Doesn’t anyone get it. This whole movie is based on the new world order and illuminati conspiracys. People need to open there eyes!

  9. As the admin of this web page is working, no hesitation very quickly it will be famous, due to its feature contents.

  10. it had funny moments, a good plot twist, and a bunch of stuff that would keep you guessing. maybe if you don’t like animated movies you might not want to review it in the comments. this was one of the better animated movies in the past few years.