Netflix, you bring me such wonderful toys. I get to just set my sights on things and decide "yes I'll watch them" and then I tell you how much I hate them or love them, and then you bring me more things which I can absorb, chew up intellectually and spit out or swallow, and the cycle continues. Of course, you aren't a perfect system. And sometimes, gross bits of bones and gristley bits get thrown in with what should be good. If you are not understanding what I mean by this, Free Birds sucks.
*sigh* I thought the torture would be over, but no. In my own respite, I just ended up torturing myself, all alone, in the middle of the night, as I tried to write a review about Popeye. Imagine the pain, the agony ... ok, well, you are imagining too much. I suppose I shouldn't have worded it like that. Let's stop with all this frivolous extra fluffy bits and get right to the crunchy review.
Free Birds is a 3D children's adventure film about turkeys, time travel, and saving Thanksgiving. A few things to keep in mind. 1) This was intended for children, not to entertain adults the whole time, and certainly not to engage anyone in the politicals of Thanksgiving times. Don't get hung up on the fact that time travel is not used on a better purpose, like saving the Indians from their years of abuse because of expansionist Soverign doctrine of the state, or stopping the Holocaust, or making sure Justin Bieber never found youtube. This was all contrived on its simple pitch: turkeys travel to the first thanksgiving and save all turkeys. 2) Children's movies also should be good, with high quality, good scripts, excellent film making, and everything else you judge and critique films on. Just being a genre made for the young doesn't mean you are allowed to make crappy work. There are great children's films just like there are bad ones. Free Birds is a bad one.
Plot. Cowardly, quirky, nerdy turkey is screwed by everyone he knows, then rewarded. He then gets forced to do a thing he doesn't want to do, and gets rewarded. He then allows a mistake to happen, blames himself even though it isn't his fault, runs away from his problems, and gets rewarded. Then he brings pilgrims pizza with blatant Chuck E. Cheese advertising, and changes time forever, except not enough that he alters the future so that none of it happens. End with an implied rape joke.
I can't decide if I want to use this as just an "implied rape" wave or a broader "inappropriate joke" wave. Either way, Tosh would have improved this movie.
This movie isn't good. And even worse, its morals, the thing that makes a kids film worth watching, are atrocious. Not only that, the film is shoddy. The animation is awful. Like, Shrek 1 awful. Truly terrible designs and horrifyingly bad skin on all the humans, who are in a not small part of this film. It is crazy to me that the movie came out last year and looks like this.
Even worse than that, the comedy is just not. It isn't comedy. It is failed attempts at making jokes. It is sad, really. Even the one good joke they used in the trailer they ruin with a 30 second laughing montage with everyone laughing at their own jokes. Characters are generally terrible or at best, dumb. And not in a good Rocky way, either. In a "I forgot what I was doing three seconds ago" "I'm a goldfish" kind of way. And not a single voice actor seems like they are trying in the least ... except for Keith David, who can no wrong.
I will give the movie this. There is a sequence that is pretty great where Woody Harrelson's turkey escapes the factory he is from, trying to save all the turkey eggs given to him as their last hope, but he just can't do it, and the film genuinely treats this moment with some weight. Harrelson doesn't care enough to act any more than the minimum, so there isn't any emotional weight for the character, but it is nice that it is there. Also, unlike Happy Feet, this movie doesn't choke you in its environmental message. It knows it has one, but wants to stay true to its silly premise more than doing that. And I can get behind that. Oh, and it never once played Freebird. Way to go not falling to peer pressure.
Yup, sounds about right. I am really not into southern rock.