Free Birds

Directed By: Jimmy Hayward

Starring: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, and Amy Poehler

It's the holiday movie season, which means we're going to get some great blockbusters, the next batch of awards contenders, and some horrible seasonally-themed family flicks.  This weekend, we're getting a little bit of everything.  We've possibly got the next big sci-fi series with Ender's Game.  We've got the steamy film that took top honors at Cannes earlier this year, Blue is the Warmest Color.  We've even unfortunately got an animated film themed around Turkey Day with the abysmal Free Birds.  While I do believe we've entered a wonderful time of year at the movies, I've got to review the turkey movie, and I'm not too happy about that.

With Thanksgiving once again rolling around, the turkeys on one farm not too far outside DC foolishly believe they're getting ready to go to turkey paradise.  Not doing anything but sleeping and eating corn, these turkeys are a fairly mindless, unintelligent species.  The only turkey who sees this preposterous notion for what it is truly is Reggie (Owen Wilson).  This skinny little turkey knows that he and his loved ones are the main course on the humans' dinner menu for the holidays.  Every year, the President of the United States (Jimmy Hayward) pardons a turkey as part of the Thanksgiving tradition.  As it just so happens, that turkey is Reggie this year.  Now, the smart turkey is off the dinner menu at least.

As the pardoned turkey, Reggie is taken to stay at Camp David.  There, he begins a life of eating pizza and watching a Spanish show featuring a character called El Solo Lobo.  This cozy life is quickly interrupted, however, by a turkey named Jake (Woody Harrelson).  This brazen turkey, the president and sole member of the Turkeys Liberation Front, kidnaps Reggie and asks the pardoned turkey to join him on a quest.  Jake would like Reggie to accompany him on a journey through time back to 1621, the year of the first Thanksgiving.  The Great Turkey has told Jake that together these two can stop turkeys from ever being part of the Thanksgiving menu.  Reggie reluctantly agrees, and the two go off to hijack the government's super-secret time machine.

I joke quite a bit about snoozing during some bad movies.  It's quite rare that I actually do so though.  In the case of Free Birds, however, I do more than just joke about catching a few Zs.  The film is just so boring that it lends itself to dozing off for a moment or two.  It's an endlessly cheesy animated flick strung together by a pointless, incoherent storyline.  It's not funny.  It's not cute.  It's not charming.  In a year when the standard is just a little higher because of the glut of animated movies hitting theaters, Free Birds is a film that sees how low it can go.

Animated films these days aren't just attempts to appeal to the kids, but they're also attempts to appeal to parents.  Filmmakers always try to bake adult humor into these flicks so as to open up parents' wallets just a little more.  In the case of Free Birds, a film clearly aimed at children, we surprisingly see the exact opposite.  Many of the parents of today grew up on Frat Pack films, so it makes sense that Owen Wilson headlines this animated flick.  With his brand of humor though, his jokes more often than not fly right over kids' heads.  Given that Wilson is voicing a skinny little turkey, they're not quite resonating with adults either.  As opposed to primarily appealing more to the kids with slapstick comedy, Wilson unsuccessfully tries to appeal to adults.  This is a disastrous recipe for any animated movie.

This may mark the first time in STMR's young history that I've given a kids film a wasted rating.  As it stands, I am left with no choice but to do so.  Free Birds is one sad affair that doesn't put anyone in the holiday spirit.  Have some shots of tequila with this one.