Free Birds
dir Jimmy Hayward
prd Scott Mosier
scr Jimmy Hayward, Scott Mosier
voices Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, George Takei, Colm Meaney, Keith David, Dan Fogler, Jimmy Hayward, Kaitlyn Maher, Carlos Alazraqui, Jeff Biancalana, Lesley Nicol
release US 1.Nov.13, UK 29.Nov.13
13/US Relativity 1h31
Free Birds
Shut up and dance: Jake, Reggie and Ranger

wilson harrelson opehler
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Free Birds Relentlessly ridiculous, this animated comical adventure is infused with deranged humour that keeps us laughing. And the fast pace never lets up, with comedy-style action that will root kids in their seats. So we don't really mind that the story makes no logical sense from the start to the contrived message at the end.

Both smart and dopey, Reggie (Wilson) is an outcast on his farm when he's accidentally pardoned by the US president on Thanksgiving. He's living the high life when meathead turkey Jake (Harrelson) kidnaps him, ranting about a mission to travel back to 1621 Plymouth to stop pilgrims from starting the turkey-eating tradition. Surprisingly for Reggie, this is exactly what happens. Back in the 17th century he and Jake are chased by a relentless hunter (Meaney) until they meet a colony of native American turkeys led by Broadbeak (David) and his feisty daughter Jenny (Poehler).

The plot is utter gibberish: mindlessly America-centric, it fails to remember that more turkeys are eaten globally at Christmas. But never mind. Director Hayward keeps the film moving briskly, while he and cowriter Mosier pepper the dialog with riotously warped gags, randomly referring to movies from Indiana Jones to Dr Strangelove, plus a series of frenetic action scenes that are utterly preposterous. Weirdly, all of this has been conceived as a 19th century Western.

So coherence is not a primary concern. Which rather undermines the strained attempt at making serious comments about loyalty, self-confidence and the joys of becoming vegetarians. The script also continually strains to stir in simplistic sentimentality, including parent-child touches and a corny love story. But the best subplot is the bromance between the alpha-males Jake and Ranger (Jenny's brother, voiced by director Hayward). Their macho posturing is genuinely hilarious, as is their, erm, mating dance.

The voice actors have a lot of fun with their wildly inconsistent characters. The funniest performance is from Takei as the time machine S.T.E.V.E. And the wittiest character is the president's hyperactive daughter (Maher). All of the high-energy performances help make up for animation that's slightly low on detail and fluidity. And it's all so raucously colourful that we just go with it. Although we'll never admit to laughing at all of the buttocks jokes. If turkeys actually had them, they'd probably be delicious.

cert u themes, violence, some rude jokes 3.Nov.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall