Free Birds

Feb. 19th, 2017 06:19 am
calzephyr: (birds)
[personal profile] calzephyr
Spoilers ahead

Let me start by saying that children's movies, like children's books, are often very weird fare. Adults recognize the story gaps that go over children's heads and I don't know about anyone else, but they can be difficult to reconcile. For example, Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree was an extremely popular book when I was a child but it also has been scrutinized as being a tale of poor boundaries and co-dependence. Rather than overthinking the story, the problem just might be poor writing and production that invites comparison or confusion where none is intended. I think that's what happened to Free Birds - the one progressive part of the movie gets lost in the problematic parts and it just becomes a hot mess. To be honest, I also fell asleep in the middle of the movie and had to be nudged awake :-P

In a nutshell, it's about two time travelling turkeys, Reggie and Jake, who try to get turkey off the Thanksgiving dinner menu. They go back in time to the first Thanksgiving and encounter a bunch of wild turkeys who wear face paint and live underground to avoid capture by the pilgrims. Reggie falls in love with the chief's daughter, Jenny.

Perhaps it's a little unfair that Pixar has created such high standards for story and visuals in animated movies and the turkeys can barely clear this hurdle. Some of the animation was truly dreadful, such as Myles Standish's three dogs and the plasticity of the pilgrims. The character designers also seem to have mixed up Myles Standish with an Old West bounty hunter and the depiction of First Nations people isn't very respectful.

There are lots of laughs and the rivalry between Jake and Jenny's older brother Ranger is pretty funny. The parts where the turkeys are talking but are heard by humans as gobbling are hilarious! But the whole thing is so unevenly paced, incoherent and weird. There's even a turkey funeral which seems like an attempt to bring some emotion to the film...but unlike, say, Up, it comes across as out of place and patched on. The film is just full of weird stuff like that - one later scene flashes back to Jake's youth where he escaped from a factory farm. I hate to say it, but I have watched two hour Vine compilations more coherent than this movie :-D

There are so many messages in Free Birds that by the end of the movie, everything feels unresolved even though the turkeys are successful in changing Thanksgiving by turning it into a pizza party. Movies don't have to be this bad!
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