Directed by: Jimmy Hayward
Screenplay by Scott Mosier and Jimmy Hayward
Story by: David I. Stern and John J. Strauss
Produced by: Scott Mosier
Cast: Owen Wilson (Reggie), Woody Harrelson (Jake), Amy Poehler (Jenny), George Takei (S.T.E.V.E.) , Colm Meaney (Myles Standish), Keith David (Chief Broadbeak), Dan Fogler (Governor Bradford)
There are so many different kind of religious holidays in the world, for instance; Sikh, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim, and many other western, winter holidays. But this is not what I am going to to write about. Have you ever asked yourself about the food that you serve during the holidays? Oh wait, I better rephrase my question here and ask you in a different way: Have you ever asked a land animal, let`s say, a turkey or a chicken, if they wanted to be killed and cooked to become food for a holiday?” Well, then I have excellent news for you- you don`t have to look any further for the answer, because there is an animal, or shall I say, a turkey, who has no intention of being eaten, even for a special occasion. This is where the story of “Free Birds” begins – Turkey does not want to be killed and cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. Certainly, If you cook turkey properly, it will come out tasting delicious and your Thanksgiving day will l become unforgettable. But, have you ever asked the turkey if he wants to be killed and cooked for humans? If turkeys were able to talk, I am sure they would have expressed themselves the way the turkeys did in “Free Birds” – in an unbelievably hilarious way. After all, turkeys like humans also want to live their lives to the fullest…
You might think that turkeys are not very smart animals, and you might be right. But our hero Reggie will prove you wrong. Reggie, is an unusually smart turkey, who tries to warn his farmyard brethren of the coming Thanksgiving doom – but the turkeys don`t believe him, and they are all getting ready to be served for the Holiday meal. Soon after, Reggie the Turkey (voiced by Owen Wilson), finds himself spared as the annual ‘Pardoned Turkey’, and ends up at the residence of the president of the United States of America. Reggie the Turkey does not know that the most interesting journey in his life is about to begin when he gets a chance to travel back in time with a fanatic turkey, named Jake (voiced by Woody Harrelson) , to change the course of history – and get turkey off the holiday menu for good.
Jimmy Hayward is an incredibly talented animator, who worked on such famous animated films as “Finding Nemo’, Monsters, Inc.” and “Toy Story 2”. He also directed one of my favorite animated films – “Horton Hears a Who” voiced by Jim Carey and Steve Carell. When I heard that he was making another film- “Free Birds”- I looked forward to it right from the beginning. In this film Jimmy Hayward teams up with another screenwriter, Scott Mosier, to build their characters, and add a unique sense of humor that becomes their trademark.
Mossier and Hayward though their writing was not the best, did create a very interesting story of a turkey with the crazy idea of going back in time to make sure turkeys will never be a part of Thanksgiving. I am sure North Americans would not welcome this idea, but Hayward and Mossier thought otherwise. They bring to us an enjoyable, animated film, which surely kids will appreciate more than their parents. “Free Birds” is not brilliant, but is a hilarious and inventive animated film worth watching at least twice.
Surely, an animated film would be nothing without its voiced cast; Owen Wilson is the voice of Reggie, who is the only sane turkey among a silly pack of turkeys – the unfamed hero of the bird world. Wilson portrays his character with even more humor than written. And, Woody Harrelson, as fanatic ‘Jake the Turkey’, was terrific.
Jimmy Hayward`s “Free Birds” provides exactly what you would expect from an animated film. It is fun, and more importantly – family friendly. It’s a movie that will develop a child’s interest in the history of Thanksgiving. However, I doubt that the story of desperate turkeys who wants to survive during Thanksgiving will make kids stop eating turkey after watching this film… Hopefully I am wrong.