On a quaint, family-owned farm, a giant turkey flock lives a quiet, corn-stuffed life. All everyone cares about is feeding time and grazing in the sun and being in "Turkey Paradise". Everyone, that is, except for Reggie (Owen Wilson), a whip-smart turkey who is an outcast among his flock. Reggie's life is changed forever when hi is plucked from his paradise by Jake (Woody Harrelson), the relentless founder of the "Turkey Freedom Front". Jake has only one mission: to save all of turkey-kind.
It may just be the number of similar animated films this year, each about some kind of animal or person searching for some kind of family, but I just couldn’t enjoy Free Birds as much as others may. That’s not to say its a bad film, it’s just as good as this years Epic or even Despicable Me 2 but it doesn’t impress in the same ways as classics like How to Train Your Dragon or The Incredibles which managed to rise above the simple family storyline while still having it in the picture.
Free Birds follows cowardly and intelligent turkey Reggie (Owen Wilson) who finds himself kidnapped from his cushy role as the presidentially pardoned turkey by fellow turkey Jake (Woody Harrelson), someone who intends on stopping the first ever Thanksgiving from taking place. He intends to do it with the use of an experimental time machine that sends both Reggie and Jake back to the past where they discover things aren’t as simple as they first assumed.
The best aspect of Free Birds is it’s an animated film willing to take risks for its comedy. From an extended visual gag involving two rival turkeys doing a series of different dances to the films abrasive and utterly hilarious talking time machine (voiced by George Takei). Not much of the films comedy feels forced or like its trying too hard.
The film’s story while a little too cutesy and adorable, has a certain grit to it as director Jimmy Hayward takes some visual risks too. One of the films closing fight scenes is both distressing and beautifully put together with some glorious fire effects.
The film isn’t high art, in fact it tries to avoid being anything other than a wild romp through the past with intelligent and fun loving turkeys. Unlike Epic and its other animated counterparts this year, Free Birds gets that its story isn’t special so it makes its comedy worth the price of admission.