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Free Birds (3D)


Stars: Voices: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, George Takei, Colm Meaney, Keith David, Dan Fogler, Jimmy Hayward, Kaitlyn Maher, Carlos Alazraqui, Jeff Biancalana, Danny Carey, Carlos Ponce, Robert Beltran, Lesley Nicol, Jason Finazzo, Scott Mosier, Lauren Bowles, Dwight Howard

Director: Jimmy Hayward

Every year the US President pardons a turkey to save it from gracing the table at Thanksgiving. In fact, this year, President Obama saved the to-be-roasted lives of a pair of turkeys. Vegetarians in particular must have hailed his headline-grabbing kindness.

I can’t help wondering, though, if the President would pardon Free Birds even with the guaranteed prospect of sycophantic media attention. Personally, I doubt it. The computer-animated antics on offer might appeal to undemanding youngsters who enjoy the in-your-face storytelling offered by effective enough 3-D filming. Accompanying adults, however, would be best advised to take either (a) a sleeping tablet or (b) a good book, a strong flashlight and earplugs.

Ironically, while Free Birds features two turkeys who want to take the birds off the celebratory menu, the setting is Thanksgiving and not Christmas, which hardly helps propel the less-than-involving storyline in the UK.

Our Feathered Hero Reggie is pardoned by the President and lives a life of politician-style luxury at Camp David being waited on wing and claw by obliging flunkeys. Until, that is, he is plucked away by Jake, the founder and sole member of ‘The Turkey Freedom Front’ to travel back in time to 1621 and change history by persuading settlers to eat something else …

Mind you, Trekkie completists of all ages will need to see the film since the voice of the time travel machine S.T.E.V.E is provided by George Takei who was Lieutenant Sulu in ‘Star Trek’. “Fascinating!” as Mr Spock might have said.

I’ll resist the temptation to say the less-than-comprehensible (to British audiences in particular) plot helps sum up the film as a turkey and/or “for the birds”. There are enough sight gags to prevent easily pleased youngsters from hurling things at the screen and vocal casting helps, with Owen Wilson (always better heard than seen, as all who have seen Marmaduke would probably agree) and Woody Harrelson in the lead.

Otherwise, I’d say many moviegoers might well feel stuffed after sitting through Free Birds – just like their Thanksgiving/Christmas dinners.

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Technicolor.
90 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 30 Nov 2013