Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jimmy Hayward|
|Produced by||Scott Mosier|
|Screenplay by||Jimmy Hayward
|Story by||David I. Stern
John J. Strauss
|Music by||Dominic Lewis|
|Editing by||Chris Cartagena|
Reel FX Creative Studios
|Distributed by||Relativity Media|
|Running time||91 minutes|
Free Birds is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated buddy comedy film produced by Reel FX Creative Studios. Jimmy Hayward directed the film, which features the voices of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler. Originally titled Turkeys and scheduled for 2014, it was released on November 1, 2013 by Relativity Media.
Reggie the Turkey has always been afraid of Thanksgiving because turkeys have always been on the menu. However, his attempts to warn his farm-based flock constantly fall on deaf ears and has made him an outcast. When the other turkeys finally realize what's going on, they throw Reggie outside in an attempt to save themselves. In a surprise twist of fate, he winds up being named the "pardoned turkey" by the President of the United States and is subsequently taken to Camp David. Although initially hesitant, Reggie soon eases into a routine of doing nothing but enjoying pizza delivered to him by the "Pizza Dude" and watching Mexican telenovelas.
About three days before Thanksgiving, Reggie gets bag-kidnapped by Jake, the president and the only member of the Turkeys Liberation Front. Jake tells him that a "Great Turkey" told him to find Reggie and take him back to the first Thanksgiving with him to take turkeys off the menu once and for all. They then infiltrate the base where a time machine is located. Despite interference by federal officials and several attempts by Reggie to trick him back to the surface, Jake manages to commandeer an egg-shaped time machine with an A.I. software named S.T.E.V.E. and they time-travel back to the same day in 1621, 3 days before the first Thanksgiving. Once there, they are immediately attacked and separated by colonial hunters led by Myles Standish. Reggie and Jake are quickly rescued by native turkeys led by Chief Broadbeak and his two children, Ranger and Jenny, the latter of whom Reggie immediately falls for. Broadbeak explains that the turkeys in the area have been forced underground since the settlers came and that they can't risk fighting back without the settlers taking them. The next day, Broadbeak orders Jake and Ranger to spy on the settlers and Reggie and Jenny to spring all the hunting traps the humans set up. Despite initial hostility, Ranger and Jake find out that the settlers have already begun preparations for Thanksgiving as well as where they keep their weapons. Meanwhile, Jenny, who believes Reggie is lying about being from the future, is impressed with his accidental unorthodox way of springing the traps. However, they are soon intercepted by Standish and Reggie is forced to get her in orbit over the planet aboard S.T.E.V.E., validating everything he said in the process. Reggie tries to convince Jenny to go back to the future with him once everything blows over, but she tells him she can't leave the flock no matter how much she likes him. Jake then drags Reggie away and tells him he has a plan to attack the settlers. However, Reggie has gotten sick of all his unproved stories and threatens to leave. Desperate, Jake tells him that this trip was more about him making up for his failure to save turkey eggs while escaping a turkey-fattening facility when he was young, maintaining that the Great Turkey convinced him to go through with this. While still reluctant to believe what he said, Reggie still goes along with the plan. They manage to use gunpowder to destroy the weapons shack, but Jake inadvertently leaves a gunpowder trail back to the tree the turkeys are hiding under. Standish and his men flush the turkeys out from underground, capturing enough for the feast and killing Broadbeak in the ensuing panic. Jenny is sworn in as the new chief and orders the remaining turkeys to prepare an attack on the settlers.
Despite Jake's attempts to get him to stay, a heartbroken Reggie heads back to the present. Once back at Camp David, Reggie is confronted by three future versions of himself. Through the awkward conversation, Reggie discovers from one of them that he is the Great Turkey, having used S.T.E.V.E. to throw his voice and appearance. Inspired, Reggie goes back in time to stop the attack, erasing Standish from history in the process. Through S.T.E.V.E. and the Pizza Dude, Reggie convinces the settlers and the arriving Indians that pizza is a more acceptable food than turkeys, taking them off the Thanksgiving menu entirely. In the end, Reggie decides to stay with Jenny while Jake takes S.T.E.V.E. in order to look for new adventures. However, Jake returns moments after leaving and implies to Reggie and Jenny that their antics have caused the future to be thrown out of whack.
- Owen Wilson as Reggie, a turkey who is pardoned by the President of the United States
- Woody Harrelson as Jake, a turkey who is the President of the Turkeys Liberation Front
- Amy Poehler as Jenny, a turkey and Reggie's love interest
- Dan Fogler as Governor Bradford
- Lesley Nicol as Pilgrim Woman
- George Takei as S.T.E.V.E.
- Colm Meaney as Myles Standish
- Keith David as Chief Broadbeak
- Jimmy Hayward as President of the United States, Ranger, Leatherbeak, Hazmats
- Carlos Alazraqui as Amos
- Josh Lawson as Gus
- Danny Carey as Danny
- Dwight Howard as Cold Turkey
- Carlos Ponce as Narrator, Alejandro
- Robert Beltran as Chief Massasoit
- Scott Mosier as Pizza Dude
Development on the film, originally titled Turkeys, began in June 2009 and physical production began in January 2011. John Kricfalusi was involved in early development, and posted the concepts he created for the film on his blog. Reel FX and Granat Entertainment launched in 2010 Bedrock Studios (later renamed to Reel FX Animation Studios) to produce sub $35 million family oriented projects. Ash Brannon was then set to direct the film, but in October 2012, when it was announced that Relativity Media would co-finance, co-produce, and distribute the film, Jimmy Hayward took over the directing position. Originally scheduled for November 14, 2014, the film was moved up by a year to November 1, 2013, due to the vacant slot left after the delay of Mr. Peabody & Sherman. In March 2013, the film was retitled to Free Birds.
Free Birds has received generally negative reviews from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 18% approval rating with an average rating of 4.2/10 based on 76 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Technically proficient yet creatively moribund, Free Birds begs unfortunate comparisons with the dim-witted fowl that inspired it." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 38 based on 27 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Justin Chang of Variety gave the film a negative review, saying "This seemingly innocuous toon fantasy becomes another noxious-but-sanitized exercise in family-friendly cultural insensitivity." Alonso Duralde of The Wrap gave the film a negative review, saying "Even setting aside the film's disregard for time-travel paradoxes and genocide metaphors—trust me, you don't want to wade into either of those—Free Birds just isn't funny." Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice gave the film a negative review, saying "Like so many modern animated features, Free Birds packs too much in; the picture feels cramped and cluttered, and, despite its occasionally manic action, it moves as slowly as a fattened bird waddling toward its doom." Kate Erbland of Film.com gave the film a 7.6 out of 10, saying "Free Birds is a more than worthy (and weird) holiday diversion for the whole family." Stephan Lee of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C, saying "Often, you can point to a middling animated film's visuals as its saving grace. But this colonial world, which should feel like an expansive autumnal panorama, feels oddly inert and two-dimensional." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The 3-D animated film, the first of the holiday entries, is likable and amusing, if slight." Chris Cabin of Slant Magazine gave the film one out of four stars, saying "The film is absent of humor and thrills, and accented with designs and color schemes that are equally notable for their lack of risk."
Sheri Linden of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a negative review, saying "Like the ungainly avian creatures at the center of the herky-jerky adventure, this 'toon seldom gets off the ground." Jessica Herndon of the Associated Press gave the film two out of four stars, saying "A solid premiere effort that shows Reel FX's potential to produce quality full-length animation. But the story-line, with its hypothetical constituents, seems a little desperate at times, even for a kiddie film." Linda Barnard of the Toronto Star gave the film one out of four stars, calling the film "A seasonally pegged 3D cartoon bore that sets the bar so low, it could give a slug a concussion." Tom Russo of The Boston Globe gave the film two out of four stars, calling the film "A welcome foray into underexploited territory, conceptually at least." Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic gave the film two out of five stars, saying "It isn't cute. It isn't really funny. It just kind of is." Louis Black of The Austin Chronicle gave the film one and a half stars out of five, saying "Free Birds falls flat, despite its good intentions, ideological cuteness, humorous polish, and skillful computer animation. The fine voice talents of the almost-ideal cast are wasted." Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News gave the film two out of five stars, saying "Most minor animated movies are so rote that it’s worth acknowledging a strange bird like this cheerfully gonzo kid flick. It’s no masterpiece, but if you’re hoping for a family film that will keep everyone reasonably entertained, this will fly."
Miriam Bale of The New York Times gave the film a negative review, saying "The concept is inane, and the execution is manic and unoriginal." Sara Stewart of the New York Post gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "Is Hollywood scheming to turn your little ones into strident vegetarians? Could be, but I wish they’d do it with material more inspired than Free Birds, a forgettable—and occasionally borderline offensive—animated tale of turkeys trying to take back Thanksgiving." David Hiltbrand of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "Free Birds is a stale turkey hash that heaves a lot of ingredients in the oven but never turns on the gas, a frantic attempt to come up with an animated film built around Thanksgiving Day traditions." Liam Lacey of The Globe and Mail gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "The movie's animal rights, vegetarian message should go down easily with politically correct parents—at least until they choke on the offensive depiction of 17th-century turkeys as face-painted, headband-wearing native Americans." Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Finally, there's a movie vegetarian parents can enjoy with their impressionable offspring." Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film one out of four stars, saying "In execution, the film is all sidekicks and sight gags, with little story cohesion or purpose."
Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a mixed review, saying "No, Free Birds is not (sorry) a turkey of a film. But it doesn’t really soar terribly high either. I only wish the quality of the writing in the earlier parts of the movie had been maintained throughout. If that had been the case, Reggie, Jake and their fellow turkeys just might have been flying high with the eagles—our official national birds." Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a mixed review, saying "Although it seldom approaches the inspiration of its plucky premise—a pair of turkeys travel back in a time machine to the first Thanksgiving in a bid to scratch the traditional entree off the menu—Free Birds nevertheless manages to avoid being branded a holiday turkey." Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "Everything about Free Birds feels perfunctory, from its generic title and holiday setting to its starry voice cast and undistinguished use of 3-D."
Free Birds grossed $55,750,480 in North America, and $53,100,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $108,850,480. In North America, the film opened to number four in its first weekend, with $15,805,237, behind Ender's Game, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and Last Vegas. In its second weekend, the film moved up to number three, grossing an additional $11,112,063. In its third weekend, the film dropped to number four, grossing $8,106,151. In its fourth weekend, the film dropped to number five, grossing $5,363,208.
Free Birds was released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 4, 2014.
|Soundtrack album by Dominic Lewis|
|Released||October 29, 2013|
|Label||Relativity Music Group|
The film's score was composed by Dominic Lewis. The soundtrack was released by Relativity Music Group on October 29, 2013.
- Track listing
All music composed by Dominic Lewis, except as noted.
|1.||"Up Around the Bend" (performed by Social Distortion)||3:22|
|2.||"Starry Side Up"||0:42|
|3.||"All the Trimmings"||0:44|
|6.||"El Solo Pavo"||1:56|
|9.||"Secret Military Baster"||1:56|
|12.||"Killing Two Birds with One Standish"||0:52|
|13.||"Fly or Get Stuffed"||1:51|
|14.||"School of Flock"||2:38|
|18.||"Lazy Eye View"||1:19|
|19.||"Birds of a Feather"||1:10|
|21.||"Hold on to Your Giblets"||4:56|
|22.||"The Right Stuffing"||0:39|
|24.||"Laid to Rest"||3:01|
|26.||"The Great Turkey"||1:20|
|29.||"Back in Time" (performed by MattyBRaps)|
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