Free Birds

Free Birds - quad posterDirector: Jimmy Hayward

Writers: Jimmy Hayward, Scott Mosier (screenplay). David I. Stern, John J. Strauss (story)

Cast: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, George Takei

Cert: U

Running Time: 91 mins

Year: 2013

 

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The lowdown: Reel FX Creative Studios force feeds you its first animated feature. Reggie and Jake are time travelling turkeys attempting to change the Thanksgiving menu for good. Despite the vocal talents of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and the delightful Amy Poehler, this awful offering deserves a thorough roasting.

FREE BIRDSFREE BIRDS

The full verdict: Thanksgiving is a quintessentially American holiday. Traditions such as the President pardoning one turkey each year are largely unknown outside the U.S so it’s difficult to judge how other countries will receive or relate to this culturally specific story.

Owen Wilson lends his laid back larynx to outsider Reggie, saved from the dinner table and happily ensconced in Camp David. His new found freedom ends when he is forcibly recruited by buff, brainless bird-on-a-mission Jake (Harrelson).

Together they travel back to 1621 in an egg-shaped time machine called S.T.E.V.E (voiced by a bewildered George Takei) to stop their colonial kind being served up for the first Thanksgiving.

No, really.

Free Birds - Wilson, Poehler, HarrelsonFree Birds - Owen Wilson, Chuck E Cheese

Director Hayward (Horton Hears A Who!) shares screenwriting blame with Kevin Smith regular Mosier. Their script is badly researched (dynamite in the 17th Century?) and the 20 million Christmas turkeys Americans gobble each year are conveniently overlooked.

Disconcertingly, the obligatory message proffered is the need to belong but on more than one occasion characters are singled out for their mental or physical deficiencies. Amy Poehler’s plucky love interest Jenny has an unfortunate ocular affliction which is apparently fine to encourage children to laugh at. Don’t worry, they won’t.

Jokes consist of repetitive rambling and tiresome slow motion slapstick. And yes, of course there’s an Angry Birds reference.

Children raised on a superior diet of Pixar and DreamWorks are likely to be quickly bored and adults should be concerned that the solutions to the poultry’s problems are sought in warfare and fast food (courtesy of tie-in promoter Chuck E. Cheese’s).

Turkey contains tryptophan, a chemical with sedative qualities. Watching Free Birds will have much the same effect.

Angela Britten