Free Birds is an animated film about turkeys. It features the vocal talent of actors such as Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, Woody Harrelson and George Takei. Its main plot point is having present day turkeys attempt to travel back to 1621 and prevent turkeys from becoming the main course at Thanksgiving feasts. This should make for a fun filled adventure which is perfect for this holiday season. It doesn't. This movie is the biggest turkey in the list of animated movies we have seen this year.
One reason the movie doesn't work is Owen Wilson. He is the best thing and the worst thing about this movie. As the voice of Reggie he creates the main personality in the film. Once Wilson's voice emerges from Reggie's mouth you know all you have to know about him. Reggie is not too smart, not too brave, and not too competitive in the world of turkeys. The audience knows this because Wilson has played this type of character over and over in other movies.
So Wilson's voice starts out as an asset to the movie, but as the film progresses it slows it down. Reggie is a one note character. His role is to play the inadvertent hero and we all know that from page one. Thus it just becomes an endurance test to wait for Reggie to do his thing.
Harrelson plays Jake, a go getter. At least that is what the dialogue says he is. But there is nothing distinctive in Jake's voice that creates any kind of image. Is he smart, is he dumb, is he a hero, is he a coward, is he sane or is he crazy? As voiced by Harrelson it is difficult to determine. He just is Jake, whoever and whatever that is.
Then there is Poehler. Is she the only woman in Hollywood who is capable of being the voice of an animated female character? It seems just about every animated movie coming down the pike these days uses Poehler for the voice of the lead female character, and it is getting old. In this film she is Jenny, the love interest for Reggie.
The script is also to blame for the failure of this film. For an animated movie to be successful these days it has to attract an adult audience just as much as a kids' one. This usually means having some one liners that are sharp and clever and that go over the kids' heads. This movie has none of that. We get a kiddies story that is aimed for kids in all ways. The poor adults who are accompanying their children just have to wait it out.
The film is rated PG for mild violence.
Free Birds doesn't even have outstanding animation. It is everyday animation and in this year of 2013 everyday just won't cut it. There is no sharpness; no pizzazz to the presentation. You feel you are watching something from the cartoon network, not an animated film worth the cost of the price of admission. "Free Birds" might have been worth seeing if it was free.
I scored Free Birds a costly 3 out of 10.