News Column

Review: 'Free Birds'

November 2, 2013


Nov. 02--The new animated movie "Free Birds" is not about free-range chicken, which would be a tastier treat. It has no connection to Lynyrd Skynyrd, even on the soundtrack, although that would have been more amusing.

"Free Birds" is a turkey movie, and the jive turkey responsible for serving up this loser should be stuffed.

For those parents who have a habit of taking their kids to see every animated movie: Go cold turkey on this one.

Owen Wilson gives voice to Reggie, a goofy, lackadaisical turkey, which seems appropriate. As this year's most famous turkey (Reggie has the honor of being the turkey pardoned by the U.S. president ahead of Thanksgiving), he's enjoying the spoils of Camp David, including cable TV and all the pizza he can eat.

But then a buff turkey named Jake (Woody Harrelson, portraying a man-of-action bird who appears to have been hit in the head too many times) kidnaps Reggie and takes him to a secret military base where a time machine awaits.

The plan: Travel back to the colony of Plymouth in 1621 and change history by eliminating turkeys from the first Thanksgiving menu.

"Free Birds" is as dim witted as that idea sounds.

The premise lends itself to complete wackiness, but this attempt never takes flight. There's a turkey-leg-sized difference between wacky and dumb, and this picture is moronic with all the trimmings.

Once this dopey pair (Reggie taking all the slapstick moments of running into things, Jake showing he's more macho than everyone they meet) time-travels back to the pilgrim era, the story changes to one of increased action and giblet-sized themes (follow your heart, find your destiny), but it doesn't get any wiser.

The movie is written and directed by Jimmy Hayward, an animator on several of Pixar's earliest films who then made his name by directing the sweet-natured, gentle "Horton Hears a Who" -- before sullying his name when he moved into live-action directing with the horrendous graphic-novel adaptation "Jonah Hex."

Hayward has another candidate for "worst movie of the year" with "Free Birds."

The few positives about the movie are that it is beautifully animated, George Takei is the one person who makes a mark with his voice work (as the automated voice of the time machine), and Reggie's relationship with a 1621 turkey is sweet (although Amy Poehler is so reserved that I had no idea it was her until the end-credits rolled).

Even the action seems laid back in this lazy film, during which kids and parents could nap.

Perhaps the best thing to do is just forget about pardoning turkeys and enjoy the Thanksgiving bounty, letting the tryptophan kick in for a trip to dreamland, and forgetting that "Free Birds" ever existed.

Michael Smith 918-581-8479



Cast: voices of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, Colm Meaney

Theaters: (3-D) Cinemark Tulsa, AMC Southroads 20, Cinemark Broken Arrow, Starworld 20, Owasso, Sand Springs, (2-D) RiverWalk, Eton Square, Admiral Twin Drive-in

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Rated: PG (some action/peril and rude humor)

Quality: 1.5 stars (on a scale of zero to four stars)


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