Free Birds

Free Birds

2013, PG, 90 min. Directed by Jimmy Hayward. Voices by Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Dan Folger, Amy Poehler, George Takei, Colm Meaney.

REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Nov. 1, 2013

The very best animated films operate on any number of levels, appealing to the broadest of audiences, usually working in different ways for different age groups. Free Birds definitely entertained the many children in the theatre at the screening I attended, especially the youngest ones. Adults were a very different story.

Reggie (Wilson), a turkey that just doesn’t fit in, is selected by the U.S. president to be “liberated” because the first daughter falls for him. He ends up in the White House where he is grabbed by Jake (Harrelson), a member of the Turkey Liberation Front. Together they travel back in time to the first Thanksgiving celebration via a secret government time-machine experiment. There they will remove turkey from the menu, thereby liberating millions of birds over the next centuries from the annual holiday slaughter. Once back in time, they hook up with a flock of turkeys that espouse nonviolence. Reggie falls for and hangs out with Jenny (Poehler), the chief turkey’s daughter. (Noting that turkeys weren’t even on the menu at the first Thanksgiving misses the point.)

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. Wilson’s signature whine is muted and I didn’t even recognize Harrelson’s voice until halfway through the movie. Bad history is a meaningless criticism to lob at an animated film, but the film really has no other outstanding attributes. This one is just for the kids.

More Jimmy Hayward Films
Jonah Hex
The disfigured Weird Western Tales antihero gets his own movie, which mixes elements of the Western and the supernatural.

Marc Savlov, June 25, 2010

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!
Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, and Carol Burnett provide just-right voices for these Seussian characters who offer the perfect antidote to the injustices experienced in childhood.

Marjorie Baumgarten, March 14, 2008

More by Louis Black
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Louis Black bids farewell in his final "Page Two" column

Sept. 8, 2017

Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Celebrating love and resistance at Terry and Jo Harvey Allen's 55th wedding anniversary

July 14, 2017


Free Birds, Jimmy Hayward

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)