Review: 'Free Birds' is a real turkey of a 'toon
“Free Birds” is more proof, as if 2013 needed it, that Hollywood has almost killed the animated goose that laid the golden egg.
In this case, the goose is a turkey. A year that has produced the clever and heartfelt “The Croods” and the passably amusing “Despicable Me 2” has also had a healthy dose of sausage factory about it. “Epic,” “Monsters University,” “Planes,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” and “Turbo” — all major pictures that hint at a talent pool spread absurdly thin and an industry with sneering contempt for its audience. (“Animate it, charge 3-D prices and their parents will grit their teeth and bear it!”)
Reflex Animation took a cute idea and a feeble script then lined up a “name” voice cast to overcompensate.
Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler and George Takei — funny folks, one and all. Yet there's barely a laugh in it. Wilson voices Reggie, a scrawny Jeremiah at his turkey farm, the one guy to figure out why he and his flock are being fattened up. “Turkeys are dumb,” he narrates as his peers clap as friends and family are dragged off to “turkey paradise.”
But Reggie is that lucky bird who wins a presidential pardon. Reggie has barely settled into a pampered life of pizzas and TV watching at Camp David when the demented Jake (Harrelson) shows up to birdnap him and enlist Reggie in his mission — to steal the secret Camp David time machine, travel back to early America and change Thanksgiving history, “to get turkey off the menu.”
In 1621 Plymouth, the Pilgrims are starving — save for the portly Gov. Bradford (Dan Fogler). Myles Standish (Colm Meaney) is a trigger-happy menace who figures he can turkey-hunt the colony to safety.
The sight gags fall flat and much of the screenplay seems like a rough draft that the filmmakers expected the actors to fix. And they didn't.
Frozen, undercooked and sorely lacking much in the way of “all the trimmings,” this turkey isn't ready to serve.
Roger Moore is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.