Every year there’s an increasing number of moderate to big budget animation films with recognisable stars that simply fail to make you laugh even once. These are the most frustrating movie watching experiences because you’re witness to some super high end technology, with no heart or soul to drive it. Free Birds is one of these films.
On paper the film should be a laugh riot because it stars Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler, and is directed by the guy who made Horton Hears A Who! and worked on various Pixar films. Sadly Free Birds is one of the, if not the unfunniest film of the year. It’s aimed squarely at very young kids, but the writing falls somewhere between the chasm of demographics — it’s neither cutesy or silly enough to entertain kids nor is it mature enough to entertain adults. The concept is interesting, and would probably have made for a great short film — two turkeys, upset with humans devouring turkeys for thanksgiving travel back in time to the first ever Thanksgiving and stop humans from creating this custom.
Every character and scenario is reminiscent of the ones from either a Pixar or a Dreamworks movie. Wilson’s Reggie is an outcast who dreams of a better life — a character trait that has been done to death in animation cinema. The filmmakers throw in shades of Bill and Ted’s journey with a dash of Chicken Run and in theory that should make for an awesome movie, but it fails on that front.
The film also zips past its runtime in trying to keep things fresh but it fails to escape its clichés. At times it tries to drill in a social message and it fails miserably there as well. The only place where the film actually succeeds is making you wish it ends sooner. That’s sad, considering the talent involved.