Movie Review FREE BIRDS – Those Are Some Angry Birds

Full disclosure:  I hate spoilers in reviews, so there won’t be any in this one.  FREE BIRDS is a Reality Media and REEL FX Animation Studios film, so, of course, it’s animated and, therefore (?) family friendly.  All ages will enjoy it, though it is geared mainly towards youngsters.  Mine isn’t the only disclaimer – the film starts with an historical disclaimer that started the audience laughing.  Continue reading for our spoiler-free FREE BIRDS review.

FREE BIRDS

FREE BIRDS

FREE BIRDS is the first feature-length animated film from Relativity Media and REEL FX.  Well, it’s the first one in theaters, anyway.  You may have seen REEL FX’s work at Universal Studios theme parks (The Simpsons Ride) or on DVD (Open Seasons 2 and 3).  This film has a little of everything:  humor (mostly slapstick), science fiction, action, drama, romance, and more.

FREE BIRDS

REGGIE (Owen Wilson) in Relativity Media’s “FREE BIRDS.” Image Courtesy of Reel FX and Relativity Media ©2013 Turkey’s Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

The story follows Reggie, a free-range turkey rejected by his flock for his “anti-corn” ways, who is “rescued” by Jake, a factory-bred turkey.   Jake doesn’t want to rescue just Reggie, though.  He wants to rescue all turkeys and he recruits S.T.E.V.E. and Reggie to help him do it with an ingenious plan, if only it could be made to work.  FREE BIRDS follows Jake and Reggie through their time trying to save turkeys from that most-dreaded day of all: Thanksgiving.  Before going to the movie, you could talk to your kids about how they might do that and see how close they get to the film’s plotline.

FREE BIRDS

REGGIE (Owen Wilson) and JAKE (Woody Harrelson) in Relativity Media’s “FREE BIRDS.”

 

Bravery and heroism are obvious themes here, but there are some very subtle points that children might miss (and may have been touched on only lightly to avoid causing political conversations with them after the movie).  Factory farming of animals for consumption is an obvious question raised, but only briefly.  It turns instead into moral about carrying on after failure, which isn’t to say that that isn’t also an important lesson for children to learn.  Another important lesson is that not stepping into a leadership role doesn’t mean you aren’t having an impact on the outcome – every role is important.

FREE BIRDS

JAKE (Woody Harrelson) stepping out of the time pod known as S.T.E.V.E. (George Takei), in Relativity Media’s “FREE BIRDS.” Image Courtesy of Reel FX and Relativity Media ©2013 Turkey’s Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

There are quite a few talking points in the film that can be used to engage children after the film.  For example, if you’re comfortable, does that mean you can just ignore injustices around you?  If you have S.T.E.V.E. on your side, what would you change?  How did Reggie help Jake in his quest, whether or not he knew he was helping, even if it didn’t work out the way Jake had hoped?  Are heroes always heroic in all ways?  If you’re a parent, I’m sure these and many other questions will come to mind and enable you to have a lively discussion with your kids.

FREE BIRDS

GEORGE TAKEI stars as S.T.E.V.E. in Relativity Media’s “FREE BIRDS.” Photo by KC Bailey, courtesy of Reel FX and Relativity Media ©2013 Turkey’s Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

No-one will be surprised to hear the George Takei steals every scene he’s in.  The voice-acting is wonderful.  You can’t go wrong with Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson and with Amy Poehler rounding out the starring line-up, they got the cast just about perfect.  The animation was bright and colorful with some very imaginative and lovely landscapes.  The reimagining of real people’s characters in the movie was impressive, opening more thoughts about whether or not a hero is always a hero (I know this repeats a question above, but now you have the context for the question).  The turkeys had surprisingly comprehensive characters and were as well-rounded as any live characters might have been, even if there were gaps in their stories.

FREE BIRDS

OWEN WILSON (left) and WOODY HARRELSON (right) star as JAKE and REGGIE in Relativity Media’s “FREE BIRDS.” Photo by Kevin Estrada, courtesy of Reel FX and Relativity Media ©2013 Turkey’s Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

I was happily surprised by how thought-provoking FREE BIRDS is.  It was a simplistic take on the question of S.T.E.V.E., but probably deep enough for the children watching and it leaves scope for conversation with the kids later.  Some of the gags were obvious and not particularly funny, but there were some great lines that I’m sure kids will be giggling over.  Very young children might be frightened by some of the more dramatic scenes, but it’s largely harmless and a good option for a family day at the movies.

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About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.