Sometimes a movie has a plot that is so ridiculous that you think it's honestly a joke. A movie with a premise so insane and absurd that the trailer for it seems like a fake one that you would find on the internet. "Free Birds" is one of them. Ever since I saw the first trailer for this movie back when I saw "Monsters University", I legitimately thought it was a joke. I couldn't believe that a movie with a plot as ridiculous as this could ever be made, but here we are. A movie about two turkeys that time travel to stop the first Thanksgiving, and it's just as bad as you could've imagined. Here's why this movie doesn't work.
A turkey named Reggie (Owen Wilson) has recently been pardoned by the President of the United States and has been enjoying a life of luxury at Camp David. For a while now, he's been doing nothing but eating pizza from Chuck E. Cheese's (the only pizza company this movie could afford) and binge-watching on a Mexican soap opera. He is then kidnapped by another turkey named Reggie (Woody Harrelson) who tells him that the "Great Turkey" told him to find him and bring him to a time machine to stop turkeys from being put on the Thanksgiving menu. To do this, they must go in an egg-shaped time machine and traveling back to 1621 to stop the Pilgrims led by Myles Standish (Colm Meaney) from setting up the first Thanksgiving feast. Once they arrive in the past, they run into a group of native turkeys led by Chief Broadbeak (Keith David), his daughter Jenny (Amy Pohler) and his son Ranger (Jimmy Hayward). Despite the natives' reluctance to fight back, Reggie and Jake decide to stay with the turkeys in hopes that they can convince the others to help stop the first Thanksgiving. There's more plot I could discuss, but that would get into spoiler territory.
After the film was over, I was shocked to find out that the director of this movie also directed "Horton Hears A Who!" at Blue Sky. Though where that film had some good writing from Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio who would later join Illumination, this film has some really bad writing. Just from the brief plot synopsis, you could already tell how bad the story is. It honestly feels like a really unfunny joke being stretched out into an hour and a half long movie. Not only that, the ending for this movie (which I won't spoil) is absolutely terrible. It's honestly one of the worst endings you could have come up with for a movie like this, and given this movie's plot, that's not saying a lot. The animation is also not very good which is a shame because it's coming from a pretty good studio. The animation studio Reel FX made this movie and are notable for successfully taking certain Looney Tunes characters like Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner and turning them into computer animated characters. I don't know why but something about the animation here just seemed off to me. It felt a little unpolished and looked like it was made for a direct to DVD release and not a movie made for theaters and I found it pretty unforgivable. As for the characters, I found some of them likable but the others annoying and forgettable. I did like the characters of Reggie and Jenny and the likable chemistry the two had together, but I found Jake incredible annoying and tiresome and the other characters just forgettable. In fact, I forgot about most of them by the time the film ended.
Though honestly, forgetting about "Free Birds" is probably for the best. The plot was so stupid, the animation was pretty mediocre and while some of the characters were likable, the others were annoying or forgettable. There are other Thanksgiving movies out there, and in my opinion, I think this is the right turkey to skip.