Movie Reviews

'Free Birds’: Battle between humans and turkeys misses all the trimmings

By Anjali RaguramanMovies - 30 October 2013 12:00 AM | Updated 1:50 PM

'Free Birds’: Battle between humans and turkeys misses all the trimmings

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Rating: 2 / 5

Two turkeys go back in time to the very first Thanksgiving to save every turkey in history by taking them off the menu.

Reggie, voiced by Owen Wilson, is the runt turkey. He’s skinnier, but smarter than all the other turkeys on his farm. Instead of being brought to the slaughter, he’s selected as the US president’s ‘pardon turkey’.

Owen Wilson as Reggie the Presidential 'Pardon Turkey', who's saved from being Thanksgiving dinner.

Living the high life on Camp David (a country retreat of the president of the USA), Reggie has all the creature comforts he needs (cable TV, bunny slippers and endless supply of pizza), when a rather macho turkey, Jake (Woody Harrelson), kidnaps him.


It’s this ‘fowl’ twist of events that sets everything in motion. A time machine takes them back to the era of the pilgrims, where the duo discovers that turkeys were once smart creatures, not gobbling buffoons, like most of Reggie’s farm mates are.

The turkeys of the past had a colony of their own and fended for themselves, outsmarting starving humans.

Once you get past the historical inaccuracies of the movie (it’s hard not to nitpick), you realise that the premise of the film is actually a winning idea. Time travel, changing the course of history — it’s all rather exciting. But the film doesn’t deliver.

Unlike some of the other animated offerings from 2013, there’s nothing special about the animation in ‘Free Birds’. It doesn’t have the vivid colour scheme of ‘Monsters University’ or the charming weirdness of ‘Despicable Me 2’. The talking turkeys and selection of pilgrims are bland and uninspired, which is surprising as Jimmy Hayward, the man behind ‘Horton Hears a Who’, directs this film.


The voiceovers were well cast, with Woody Harrelson (‘The Hunger Games’) as red-blooded meathead Jake bringing plenty of laughs. Jake was more than just comic relief though, proving along the way that he had more depth to his character.

Owen Wilson, as the awkward, bumbling Reggie is perfect. His distinct voice and self-deprecating tone works well with his character.


Reggie finds love with Jenny, voiced by funny woman Amy Poehler.

Reggie’s love interest, the heroic Jenny, is played by Amy Poehler. As the daughter of the chief of the tribe of turkeys, she is a gung-ho, empowered female character, who saves Reggie from the humans and introduces him to his world. Unfortunately, the material doesn’t allow her to be funny at all.

The scene-stealer was S.T.E.V.E, the interactive time machine, voiced by George Takei (‘Star Trek’). His comic timing and one-liners were the only thing that added any interest to the plot.

The comedy throughout the film otherwise was half-baked, with only a handful of slapstick moments peppered throughout. It takes great suspension of belief to wring any enjoyment out of this film.

‘Free Birds’ is a run-of-the-mill animated film that never really gets going, but if you need something to occupy your kids with for 90 minutes, it’ll do.

'Free Birds' open in cinemas 31 October