If you're looking for a Thanksgiving Day film to enjoy with the kids, you might want to check out the animated buddy movie Free Birds, starring Amy Poehler, Owen Wilson, and Woody Harrelson. Owen plays Reggie, a turkey who is anything but the stereotypical dumb bird. Reggie, unlike every other turkey on the farm, is well aware that Thanksgiving Day is approaching and that he and everyone else are going to be slaughtered for feast. He can't, however, seem to get anyone else to grasp this. Probably because, well, they're turkeys.
Reggie, however, is suddenly pardoned by the POTUS (sort of a Bill Clintonish one) and sent to live at the White House as the First Daughter's pet. There, Reggie gorges himself on pizza and trash TV and soon forgets all about his quest to save his feathered pals from the dinner table.
Enter Jake. Jake is like the head of PETA, only it would be called TETT: Turkey for the Ethical Treatment of Turkeys. The only member is Reggie -- but his goal is a noble one. He wants to save all turkeys by traveling back in time to the first Thanksgiving Day feast and getting them off the menu. Seriously, people, can't you just eat side dishes??
Jake enlists a reluctant Reggie and the pair do manage to travel back to 1621. (The time machine is an amusing egg voiced by George Takei.) It's a harsh time for turkeys -- they're constantly on the run from Miles Standish and the rest of the settlers. Hey, a pilgrim's gotta eat.
While in Plymouth, Reggie falls in love with lazy-eyed Jenny, the daughter of the chief turkey. She's voiced by Amy Poehler.
Some things I liked about the movie: The humor was edgy enough to engage parents who are sitting through this for their kids. I liked the message that "turkeys are living beings too" -- as a vegetarian, I'm a sucker for pro-animal stuff. But no worries, you hot dog lovin' parents, it's not vegan propaganda -- I doubt kids will even associate these purple sarcasm-spewing turkeys with what appears on their Thanksgiving Day plate.
Owen, Amy, and Woody carry the movie with their voices; the animation, by Reel FX, is pretty cool. The director, Jimmy Hayward, directed Horton Hears a Who!
Things I wasn't so keen on: Toward the end of the movie, it got frenetic and bordered on being violent. Mind you, I don't see a lot of kids' films. So maybe this is standard now. I think it could make kids hopped up and goggle-eyed ... but maybe you don't mind that.
Anyway, will Reggie, Jake, and Jenny actually succeed in taking turkeys off the menu? I won't spoil it, but let's just say there's still plenty of stuffing and mashed potatoes.
If your kids are into movies like Cars, Chicken Run, and Madagascar, Free Birds should keep them glued to their seats like they've just had a six-course Thanksgiving Day meal. (Pizza instead of turkey, thanks!)
Does this sound like a movie you'd like to see?
Image via Relativity Media/Reel FX Animation Studios