Free Birds is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated comedy film about two turkeys traveling back in time to prevent Thanksgiving. It was produced by Reel FX Creative Studios as its first theatrical fully animated feature film. Jimmy Hayward directed the film, which he also co-wrote with Scott Mosier, the film's producer. The film stars the voices of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler with supporting roles done by George Takei, Colm Meaney, Keith David, and Dan Fogler. Originally titled Turkeys, and scheduled for 2014, the film was released on November 1, 2013, by Relativity Media. The film earned $110 million on a $55 million budget. Free Birds was Relativity Media's second animated movie after 9 (2009 animated film).
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jimmy Hayward|
|Produced by||Scott Mosier|
|Screenplay by||Jimmy Hayward|
|Story by||David I. Stern|
John J. Strauss
|Music by||Dominic Lewis|
|Edited by||Chris Cartagena|
|Distributed by||Relativity Media|
|Box office||$110.4 million|
Reggie is a turkey who has always feared Thanksgiving because turkeys have always been on the menu, but his incessant attempts to warn his flock have made him an outcast. When the other turkeys finally realize what is happening, they thoughtlessly throw Reggie outside in an attempt to save themselves. To his surprise, he is named the "pardoned turkey" by the President and is subsequently taken to Camp David. Although initially hesitant, Reggie soon eases into a routine of doing nothing but enjoying pizza from the "Pizza Dude" and watching Mexican telenovelas.
Reggie is kidnapped by Jake, a member of the Turkey Freedom Front, who tells him that "The Great Turkey" told him to find Reggie and take him back to the first Thanksgiving with him to take turkeys off the menu. They steal a time machine controlled by an A.I. named S.T.E.V.E (Space Time Exploration Vehicle Envoy). Jake instructs S.T.E.V.E. to time-travel back to the same day in 1621, three days before the first Thanksgiving. Once there, they are ambushed by colonial hunters led by Myles Standish, but they are quickly rescued by native turkeys led by Chief Broadbeak and his two children, Ranger and Jenny.
Broadbeak explains that the turkeys in the area have been forced underground since the settlers came and that they cannot risk fighting back without the settlers taking them. The next day, Broadbeak orders Jake and Ranger to spy on the settlers while Reggie and Jenny spring all the humans' hunting traps. Despite initial hostility, Ranger and Jake find out that the settlers have already begun preparations for Thanksgiving and where they keep their weapons. Meanwhile, Jenny is unconvinced Reggie is from the future, but is impressed with his accidental unorthodox way of springing the traps. However, they are soon intercepted by Standish and Reggie is forced to send her into orbit aboard the time machine, validating everything he said. Reggie asks Jenny to go back to the future with him once everything blows over, but she refuses to leave the flock no matter how much she likes him. Jake then drags Reggie away and tells him he has a plan to attack the settlers. However, Reggie has become sick of all his improbable stories and threatens to leave.
Desperate, Jake tells him that this trip was more about him making up for his failure to save turkey eggs while escaping a factory farm when he was young, maintaining that the Great Turkey convinced him to go through with this. While still reluctant to believe what he said, Reggie still goes along with the plan. They blow up the weapons shack, but Jake inadvertently leaves a gunpowder trail back to the turkeys' hideout. Standish and his men flush the turkeys out from underground, capturing enough for the feast; Broadbeak sacrifices his life to help the remaining turkeys escape. Disgraced, Reggie returns home, where he discovers from S.T.E.V.E. that he is the Great Turkey. He travels back in time to send the young Jake on his mission. Jenny is sworn in as the new chief and orders the remaining turkeys to prepare an attack on the settlers.
Jenny, Jake and Ranger lead the turkeys in an attack on the settlement just as Chief Massasoit and his tribe arrive. Inspired, Reggie goes back in time to stop the attack, inadvertently trapping Standish in the time stream. Through S.T.E.V.E. and the Pizza Dude, Reggie convinces the settlers and Indians that pizza is a more acceptable food than turkeys, taking them off the Thanksgiving menu entirely. Reggie stays with Jenny while Jake takes S.T.E.V.E. in order to look for new adventures.
- Owen Wilson as Reggie, a domesticated turkey who is pardoned by the President of the United States and is dragged into Jake's plot.
- Woody Harrelson as Jake, a wild turkey and the president of the Turkey Freedom Front.
- Amy Poehler as Jenny, a wild turkey and Reggie's love interest.
- George Takei as S.T.E.V.E., the artificial intelligence of the time machine.
- Colm Meaney as Myles Standish, a pilgrim hunter.
- Keith David as Chief Broadbeak, the chief of the native wild turkeys, domesticated turkeys, and ocellated turkeys and Jenny's father.
- Dan Fogler as Governor William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth colony.
- Jimmy Hayward as President of the United States, Ranger, Leatherbeak, Hazmats and additional voices
- Kaitlyn Maher as President's daughter
- Carlos Alazraqui as Amos
- Jeff Biancalana as General Sagan, Hazmats and additional voices
- Danny Carey as Danny
- Carlos Ponce as Narrator, Alejandro
- Robert Beltran as Chief Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoags.
- Lesley Nicol as Pilgrim Woman
- Jason Finazzo as Chrononaut One and additional voices
- Scott Mosier as Pizza Dude and additional voices
- Lauren Bowles as Jake's Mother
- Dwight Howard as Cold Turkey
- Josh Lawson as Gus
Development on the film, originally titled Turkeys, began in June 2009 and physical production began in January 2011. John Kricfalusi was involved in early development, and posted the concepts he created for the film on his blog. Reel FX and Granat Entertainment launched in 2010 Bedrock Studios (later renamed to Reel FX Animation Studios) to produce sub-$35 million family-oriented projects. Ash Brannon was then set to direct the film, but in October 2012, when it was announced that Relativity Media would co-finance, co-produce, and distribute the film, Jimmy Hayward took over the directing position. Originally scheduled for November 14, 2014, the film was moved up by a year to November 1, 2013, due to the vacant slot left after the delay of DreamWorks Animation's Mr. Peabody & Sherman. In March 2013, the film was retitled to Free Birds.
Free Birds was critically panned. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 19% approval rating with an average rating of 4.2/10 based on 85 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Technically proficient yet creatively moribund, Free Birds begs unfortunate comparisons with the dim-witted fowl that inspired it." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 38 based on 27 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Justin Chang of Variety gave the film a negative review, saying "This seemingly innocuous toon fantasy becomes another noxious-but-sanitized exercise in family-friendly cultural insensitivity." Alonso Duralde of The Wrap gave the film a negative review, saying "Even setting aside the film's disregard for time-travel paradoxes and genocide metaphors—trust me, you don't want to wade into either of those—Free Birds just isn't funny." Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice gave the film a negative review, saying "Like so many modern animated features, Free Birds packs too much in; the picture feels cramped and cluttered, and, despite its occasionally manic action, it moves as slowly as a fattened bird waddling toward its doom." Kate Erbland of Film.com gave the film a 7.6 out of 10, saying "Free Birds is a more than worthy (and weird) holiday diversion for the whole family." Stephan Lee of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C, saying "Often, you can point to a middling animated film's visuals as its saving grace. But this colonial world, which should feel like an expansive autumnal panorama, feels oddly inert and two-dimensional." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The 3-D animated film, the first of the holiday entries, is likable and amusing, if slight." Chris Cabin of Slant Magazine gave the film one out of four stars, saying "The film is absent of humor and thrills, and accented with designs and color schemes that are equally notable for their lack of risk."
Sheri Linden of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a negative review, saying "Like the ungainly avian creatures at the center of the herky-jerky adventure, this 'toon seldom gets off the ground." Jessica Herndon of the Associated Press gave the film two out of four stars, saying "A solid premiere effort that shows Reel FX's potential to produce quality full-length animation. But the story-line, with its hypothetical constituents, seems a little desperate at times, even for a kiddie film." Linda Barnard of the Toronto Star gave the film one out of four stars, calling the film "A seasonally pegged 3D cartoon bore that sets the bar so low, it could give a slug a concussion." Tom Russo of The Boston Globe gave the film two out of four stars, calling the film "A welcome foray into underexploited territory, conceptually at least." Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic gave the film two out of five stars, saying "It isn't cute. It isn't really funny. It just kind of is." Louis Black of The Austin Chronicle gave the film one and a half stars out of five, saying "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." Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News gave the film two out of five stars, saying "Most minor animated movies are so rote that it’s worth acknowledging a strange bird like this cheerfully gonzo kid flick. It’s no masterpiece, but if you’re hoping for a family film that will keep everyone reasonably entertained, this will fly."
Miriam Bale of The New York Times gave the film a negative review, saying "The concept is inane, and the execution is manic and unoriginal." Sara Stewart of the New York Post gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "Is Hollywood scheming to turn your little ones into strident vegetarians? Could be, but I wish they’d do it with material more inspired than Free Birds, a forgettable—and occasionally borderline offensive—animated tale of turkeys trying to take back Thanksgiving." David Hiltbrand of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "Free Birds is a stale turkey hash that heaves a lot of ingredients in the oven but never turns on the gas, a frantic attempt to come up with an animated film built around Thanksgiving Day traditions." Liam Lacey of The Globe and Mail gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "The movie's animal rights, vegetarian message should go down easily with politically correct parents—at least until they choke on the offensive depiction of 17th-century turkeys as face-painted, headband-wearing native Americans." Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Finally, there's a movie vegetarian parents can enjoy with their impressionable offspring." Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film one out of four stars, saying "In execution, the film is all sidekicks and sight gags, with little story cohesion or purpose."
Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a mixed review, saying "No, Free Birds is not (sorry) a turkey of a film. But it doesn’t really soar terribly high either. I only wish the quality of the writing in the earlier parts of the movie had been maintained throughout. If that had been the case, Reggie, Jake and their fellow turkeys just might have been flying high with the eagles—our official national birds." Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a mixed review, saying "Although it seldom approaches the inspiration of its plucky premise—a pair of turkeys travel back in a time machine to the first Thanksgiving in a bid to scratch the traditional entree off the menu—Free Birds nevertheless manages to avoid being branded a holiday turkey." Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "Everything about Free Birds feels perfunctory, from its generic title and holiday setting to its starry voice cast and undistinguished use of 3-D."
Free Birds grossed $55,750,480 in North America, and $54,400,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $110,150,480. In North America, the film opened to number four in its first weekend, with $15,805,237, behind Ender's Game, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and Last Vegas. In its second weekend, the film moved up to number three, grossing an additional $11,112,063. In its third weekend, the film dropped to number four, grossing $8,106,151. In its fourth weekend, the film dropped to number five, grossing $5,363,208.
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||October 29, 2013|
|Label||Relativity Music Group|
|Dominic Lewis film scores chronology|
|Singles from Free Birds: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
The film's score was composed by Dominic Lewis. The soundtrack was released by Relativity Music Group on October 29, 2013.
- Track listing
All music composed by Dominic Lewis, except as noted.
|1.||"Up Around the Bend" (performed by Social Distortion)||3:22|
|2.||"Starry Side Up"||0:42|
|3.||"All the Trimmings"||0:44|
|6.||"El Solo Pavo"||1:56|
|9.||"Secret Military Baster"||1:56|
|12.||"Killing Two Birds with One Standish"||0:52|
|13.||"Fly or Get Stuffed"||1:51|
|14.||"School of Flock"||2:38|
|18.||"Lazy Eye View"||1:19|
|19.||"Birds of a Feather"||1:10|
|21.||"Hold on to Your Giblets"||4:56|
|22.||"The Right Stuffing"||0:39|
|24.||"Laid to Rest"||3:01|
|26.||"The Great Turkey"||1:20|
|29.||"Back in Time" (performed by MattyBRaps)||3:19|
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The film will be the 10th animated feature out of Hollywood so far this year, and the first original full-length release for Reel FX,...
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