Awfully Good: Free Birds + Leonard Part 6 (video)

Happy turkey day everyone! I hope you're hungry for…


Free Birds (2013)


Director: Jimmy Hayward
Stars: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler

Two turkeys travel back in time to the first Thanksgiving to change the menu.

From the director of JONAH HEX comes an animated comedy about growing to love the things you murder and eat!

It might be oversimplifying things a bit, but that's pretty much FREE BIRDS in a nutshell. "Hey kids! Celebrate Thanksgiving with these wacky new characters… and then go home and watch your parents stuff their neckholes with bread and roast their carefully basted carcasses in the oven. Gobble gobble!" It's a harmless enough movie aimed at young audiences, but all I could do watching this was dream about which side dishes I would be enjoying Thursday.

It's as if they knew THE FORCE AWAKENS trailer would be released during Thanksgiving.

Occasionally, FREE BIRDS straddles the line between saccharine children's movie and off-kilter fun. A handful of random throwaway jokes and characters actually hit the mark, including a pathetic chicken-turkey hybrid and the fatalistic hazmat guards (a clear "homage" to DESPICABLE ME's popular Minions). However, the vast majority of FREE BIRDS is like a sub-Dreamworks animated film—passable animation with minimal effort and a random assortment of celebrity voices attempting to carry it all. It almost feels like a relic of the early 2000s where every studio was trying to throw out whatever CG animated flick they could find. In fact, this is how antiquated this movie feels: the President is an obvious Bill Clinton impersonation and the whole thing ends with a big BRAVEHEART-style battle.

Reggie was disappointed to learn that Jenny was seeing someone else.

Things start out rather innocuous though. Its present day and turkeys are really, really stupid. They hump barns, voluntarily fatten themselves up, and love the farmer that kills them. Except for Reggie, a somehow sentient turkey voiced by Lightning McQueen who understands their ultimate fate. He attempts to educate his brethren but instead becomes pardoned by the President and sent to live at Camp David where he orders pizzas and watches Spanish telenovelas all day. His life of leisure is interrupted one day when he gets kidnapped by Jake (Woody Harrelson), the sole member of the Turkey Freedom Front. Together they steal a time machine voiced by George Takei and set out to stop the first Thanksgiving and the delicious slaughter of their species.

With that sultry red paint, the barn was totally asking for it.

If the movie stayed on that trajectory, it would be just an average holiday kids movie. But FREE BIRDS insists on interjecting completely bizarre ideas and imagery in to its family friendly flick. For one, there's the continual appearance of random close up shots of flexing turkey ass. (At one point two turkeys get so worked up pointing their glutes and neck scrotums at each other that they start doing the tango.) Then, in the midst of all the fun, there's a horrific flashback to Jake's backstory, which is a terrifying tale about how he grew up in a locked cage being chemically fattened to be slaughtered along with his parents. His mother risks her life to let him escape so he can bring help and save his friends and family—except he immediately fails, leaving them all to presumably die painful, yet tasty deaths and never be mentioned again. And finally, in one of the laziest story devices ever, the main character Reggie is visited by three time traveling versions of himself at the emotional climax, so they can recap the plot, explain the big twist and convince him to act. He is literally his own plot motivation.

Tribbles aren't much trouble if you deep fry them.

But perhaps most telling is how the movie exists in a bizarro world where absolutely no one is remotely surprised or weirded out by turkeys acting like humans. From ordering pizzas to breaking in to secure government facilities to staging a literal war against all white people, the feathered fowl's anthropomorphic behavior is completely ignored by society. Just imagine how crazy that is—the humans have an actual physical battle with turkeys painted up, wearing armor and wielding weapons and it doesn't faze them at all. No one even stops to say, "Hey, this is weird, you guys."

That explains it.

None of it matters though because FREE BIRDS ends with a lame feel-good message when Reggie brings Chuck E Cheese pizza to the first Thanksgiving and everyone agrees to eat that instead of the animals. Apparently this act changes history so everyone in the present day also orders Papa John's during the holidays and spares the birds. Although it doesn't show any of the other time travel consequences of a turkey introducing 20th century food products to the colonial settlers. I'm sure that didn't make any difference.

THANKSGIVING IDEA: A turkey stuffed with pizza. You're welcome, Internet.

Oh, and I should point out that once again the Native Americans get totally shafted and are completely ignored, except for when they show up at the very end of the movie to make an Angry Birds joke. Maybe the sequel can follow them as they travel back in time to also prevent the merciless slaughter of their people.

Eye rollers from turkeys and humans alike.

So many turkey asses, so little time.

For God knows what reason, there are multiple close up shots of toned turkey asses and scrotum-like wattles.

Better than Tofurky… Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • You see a turkey's pecs or buttocks
  • Jake repeats something
  • Jenny's eye drops
  • The first daughter gets tired
  • The hazmat guards laugh

Double shot when:

  • The birds do the chant from THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

This year I'm thankful for all the Awfully Good readers out there! Also, boobs.

And, be sure to check out our video column this week, where we dive into the Bill Cosby masterflop LEONARD PART 6 below!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


Extra Tidbit: In the mood for some Awfully Good Thanksgiving leftovers? Try a helping of NATIONAL LAMPOON'S HOLIDAY REUNION with Bryan Cranston, THANKSKILLING and THANKSKILLING 3, and of course, SON IN LAW with Pauly Shore.
Source: JoBlo.com



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