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Free Birds Review

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“Why don’t we make a film about time traveling turkeys?”

One can’t even begin to imagine how that story pitch went. Free Birds is certainly not your obvious film narrative but then its unique approach certainly makes it stand out from the crowd. As production studio Reel FX‘s first animated feature, the title and premise was the perfect way to grab the audience by the wattle and get them hooked.

FREE BIRDSFree Birds is centered around two smarter than average turkeys –  Reggie, voiced by Owen Wilson and Jake, by Woody Harrelson – who go back in time to take the traditional thanksgiving turkey off the menu.  Early on Jake kidnaps Reggie from his comfortable life, convincing him to take the journey back to 1621.  Once there, they’ll be three days from the first ever thanksgiving and the colony of Plymouth are preparing for a full on turkey feast. Reggie and Jake, along with their fellow 17th century turkey friends, must battle the human colony to save all future turkeys. Stability comes to the erratic pair in the form of Reggie’s love interest Jenny (played by Amy Poehler), a wise and motivated female that teaches Reggie not to be scared and overcome his problems; The typical strong female role, nothing new but much needed.

FREE BIRDSThe story set up at the start is very dialogue heavy as it tries to pack a lot of information in to start the story and lacks the pauses needed for things to fully sink in. Saying that, the gags, both verbal and action-wise, are plentiful and is definitely something that will have the kids laughing in the aisles. Owen Wilson excels as Reggie and his voice really shapes the character. His performance as a smart scaredy cat (or should I say Turkey) really makes the film what it is and his kinship with Jenny is touching at times. Their relationship culminates in a beautiful scene high up above the earth, a standout moment of the film full of 3D richness bundled with a very genuine romantic notion.

FREE BIRDSOn initial viewing there looks to be some great animators at Reel FX, that sadly aren’t always given the chance to shine due to the fast rate of the script. When their time comes, however, it makes for very enjoyable viewing, showing great, snappy comic timing. The sequence involving Jake and his 17th century counterpart Hunter halfway through the film is a great example of this. From a battle of code hand signals bizarrely leading to a dance off, the sequence really shows some skill with quick, fluid changes of mood and action.

FREE BIRDSFree Birds certainly cuts it as a Hollywood feature, with its great cast and original story. Layered up with great gags, including numerous references to existing bird brands (Angry Birds etc) this a must see for all the family. Although I’m not sure what child will be asking for a stuffed toy turkey this year? I think I’ll stick to tradition and have mine with cranberry sauce.

Free Birds is out in UK cinemas on 29th November.

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