November 12, 2013
Family Film Blogging: Free Birds
Posted by Christine Hurt

Sometimes I think the sacrifices I make for my children are misguided.  For instance, I took all three children and a tag-a-long friend to see Free Birds, and I'll never get that time back.  I should have written this review right after I saw it because frankly I don't remember much of it by now.

But the younger kids were very excited about this movie.  For weeks, they were quoting from the trailer.  At one point, a government worker says, "We have two turkeys here.  How should we address it?"  And another worker says "Uh, cranberry sauce."  For some reason, this bit had the boys in stiches, even though one of them didn't understand it.

The plot, which doesn't even remotely hang together at the end, is that an outcast turkey named Reggie from the turkey farm becomes the "pardoned turkey" when the President shows up and picks him to be the token turkey.  The President talks just like Bill Clinton.  (Who did cartoon Presidents sound like before Bill Clinton?)  While Reggie is living in the lap of luxury as the President's daughter's pet, a big military-type turkey tells him that he has been chosen to go back in time to the first Thanksgiving to "get turkeys off the menu."  They first need to sneak into a secret time-travel machine about to launch at a secret area at Camp David.  The turkeys get back to 1621 and meet up with a tribe of wild turkeys who are hiding from the Pilgrim settlers, who are starving. 

So, at this point every American should be thinking, "Wow, I'm rooting for a group of turkeys to starve out the settlers.  If this happens, the course of American history could be altered in a negative way."  I can't believe that the screenwriters are so clever that they intend this type of irony.  But, we root against the settlers, including a Miles Standish who resembles the bounty hunter from Raising Arizona.  None of the settlers are treated warmly here:  Gov. Bradford is depicted as a cowardly glutton who has probably eaten all the food stores himself, and there is no Priscilla or John Alden.

All time-travel movies have the very difficult challenge of hanging together without holes in the plot.  Here is a physicist telling movie-goers the rules of time-travel, should it ever exist (the Time Traveler's Wife was given the thumbs-up).  Let's just say Free Birds does not follow these rules.

However, the main problem with the movie is that the plot revolves around delivery pizza from Chuck E Cheese's.  So, even if you could wrap your mind around CEC having delivery, you can't imagine a world in which adults would willingly eat CEC pizza if they weren't trapped inside a CEC for a 1.5 hour birthday party over the lunch hour.  Probably the most improbable product placement yet.  If there is a spectrum here, E.T. and the Reese's pieces are on one end, and Free Birds and CEC pizza are on the other.

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