Reggie (Owen Wilson) is a disillusioned turkey, and he’s fed up of being a mere celebratory holiday meal, served up across America annually every Thanksgiving. However he is offered a lifeline when the defiant turkey Jake (Woody Harrelson) approaches him in the dead of the night, to tell him he has mission bestowed on him to capture Reggie and go back in time in the presidents secret time machine – to the first ever Thanksgiving in 1621, and somehow change the fate of their specie, and get turkey off the menu once and for good. Though Reggie is somewhat sceptical at first, his commitment to the cause is enhanced when he meets Jenny (Amy Poehler).
In a similar vein to Turbo earlier in the year, it’s always fun to witness a story of the underdog, and there are few animals less appreciated than the poor old turkey, therefore making them somewhat easy to root for. That said, it’s not a cause you feel completely behind, as instead of supporting their mission, an overwhelming surge of guilt kicks in, when you realise that this film is just making you hungry. It’s not the warmest sensation to feel when going to the cinema, to realise you’re effectively the antagonist of the piece. The time travelling aspect is good fun though, and one that is surprisingly well handled and somewhat intelligent in its approach.
Meanwhile, a strong voice cast certainly provides this film with a touch of class, as Wilson and Harrelson carry this film with their distinctive presence and comic timing – particularly the former, who has a proven aptitude for excelling in animated productions. The actors are not blessed with the most witty of scripts however. That’s not to say it’s a humourless production, there are various jokes to be had – the problem is, they simply aren’t very funny. Perhaps a brief cameo from Bernard Matthews would have lightened the mood somewhat.
Ultimately, Free Birds is a formulaic piece of cinema, and despite the relatively original idea, it doesn’t go anywhere you don’t expect it to, with so little risk taken along the way. Essentially, this movie is aimed at a younger audience where predicability in the narrative is embraced to some extent, but for us more seasoned cinema goers, it’s frustrating to see something so conventional. Don’t be surprised to see a sequel though, where the turkeys get ahead of themselves and attempt to free themselves off the Christmas menu as well. Good luck with that one turkeys. I’ve always preferred chicken anyway.