Is Free Birds the weirdest Thanksgiving movie ever made? | Pretty Reel

Compared to the Christmas season, Thanksgiving doesn’t have as many movies that define its holiday spirit, although there are some. Notable films surrounding the holidays are A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Tower Heist, and Miracle on 34th Street. Even Sami Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie has a Thanksgiving sequence that keeps resurfacing on social media or memes. However, a movie released in 2013, Free Birds, takes the spirit of Thanksgiving and turns it into a rather bizarre tale.

This lively family comedy was directed by Jimmy Hayward (director of Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who) and stars Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler and Woody Harrelson as… talking turkeys. Reggie (Wilson) is a recently pardoned turkey who stumbles upon a time machine with another turkey named Jake (Harrelson). Stay with us. Reggie and Jake enter a time machine voiced by George Takei at the first Thanksgiving in hopes of removing turkeys from the menu. Still with us? Although the film is aimed at children and families, there is no denying its rather strange and unusual presentation. There’s something about this holiday flick that can only be described as… weird.

A complex plot that subverts expectations

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Free Birds begins on Reggie’s family farm in our modern day, where he is banished by his flock. The first act turkeys are taken to what they think is “turkey heaven”, but the audience knows that is not the case. It sounds like a more family-friendly take on what Seth Rogen later parodied in his not-so-family-friendly animated movie Sausage Party. At this point in the film, expectations are set for some sort of redemption story where Reggie could do his best to come in with his flock and become part of the family. Well, you thought wrong.

However, Reggie is taken away by men in suits to be pardoned by the President of the United States. He starts a new life where he watches TV and eats Chuck-E-Cheese pizza day after day. Yes, there is a Chuck-E-Cheese logo on the pizza boxes. Nonetheless, at this point in the film, expectations are completely diverted to a turkey nap story where Reggie must return to what he now thinks is “turkey heaven.” However, the movie zigzags again when viewers think it’s going to zigzag.

The movie takes a full 180 because Reggie is now recruited by Jake, a no-frills and rather rough-and-ready turkey who initially comes out of nowhere. He and Reggie embark on a mission for the first Thanksgiving where they must stop the Pilgrims from killing and eating turkeys. It is important to note that the US government made this time machine for unknown reasons and their operation was hijacked by turkeys who literally stole the time machine. We will never see the president, his operation, or any of the elements of the first act again. So where are we now? 1621!

1621 and traditions of Turkey

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When Jake and Reggie landed in 1621, there was not a shred of fear from the native turkeys of that period. They completely accept these two time travelers as one of their own without a moment of inspection. That’s not the point. Free Birds presents these turkeys as representations of indigenous civilizations that have their own connection to the land around them and essentially live in peace, separate from the Pilgrims. It becomes even more apparent what the film was trying to convey with this flock of turkeys, which paint their faces and have their own rituals and ways of life. The pilgrims set fire to and destroy their house and drive out the turkeys. This could be a representation of the atrocities that European settlers inflicted on the native population.

Moreover, there is also a love affair between Reggie and Jenny, the daughter of the chief of this tribe of turkeys (played by Amy Poehler). This leader, played by Keith David, dies trying to save his tribe. In a ritual memorial ceremony where turkeys flap their wings and send feathers into the skies, Jenny is chosen as leader.

There’s so much going on in this 90-minute animated film that it becomes overwhelming to ponder. However, the film sets up this great third act where the turkeys will face off against the Pilgrim settlers in a Braveheart-style battle for good and evil. This… doesn’t happen. What we get are the turkeys catapulting pumpkins into the village and a clever joke:

“They are angry birds. »

This quote from a Native American observing the “battle” is an obvious nod to the famous video game where birds are catapulted into various structures. The film is loaded with this kind of puns and turkey humor. Some jokes land, but some seem to push the line into rather unfunny territory. When Jake and Reggie land in 1621, Jake tries to immediately take over and compete with Ranger (voiced by director Jimmy Hayward) for control of the herd. They engage in these endless showboating fights where they flex feathers and glutes, in addition to physical altercations. A fight shows these turkeys inflating their wattles like balloons and slamming them against each other like sumo wrestlers. We don’t do that.

The conclusion of this film shows the turkeys, pilgrims and Native Americans enjoying a Chuck-E-Cheese pizza, and how this tradition now takes over Thanksgiving. Turkeys are no longer on the menu. However, the rules of time travel clearly don’t seem to apply. No other implications of this change (made by the turkeys) seem to have been noted or even implied. Either way, the movie is pretty innocuous and makes for a fun ride for kids and families. As strange as the film is, there is one element that deserves further dissection… The Great Turkey!

The Greater Turkey

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Throughout the film, Jake describes his close encounter with the Greater Turkey. His troubled story of loss and regret led him to wander alone, where a glowing beam of light presented itself to him. A large and powerful turkey sent him on this mission to prevent the Pilgrims from using turkeys on Thanksgiving. For what becomes of Jake’s entire childhood and adult life, his mission is to fulfill the word of the Great Turkey who granted him a knob of time (a golden doorknob). This doorknob is not explained or used as a means of activating the time machine or even finding it. What it is…it’s just a doorknob. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Reggie and most native turkey tribes deny the existence of this large turkey from the sky. However, it is ultimately Reggie who decides to be brave enough to join the fight against the Pilgrims. Reggie decided to give up hope and return home with the president’s daughter. However, multiple versions of himself tell him to join the fight and that he belongs in 1621. It’s the epic climax to Reggie’s redemption story that we thought was set up in the first act. From zero to hero! So where does this leave us?

Nonetheless, he takes a doorknob from the front door of the house to the George Takei machine, or the time machine, to find young Jake and tell him to meet up…in the future. This very complex paradox implies that Reggie is The Great Turkey and triggered the events of the film where Jake finally meets Reggie several years later to begin this traveling expedition.

But why? Why did Reggie have to go back in time to inspire Jake when he could have just gone into battle himself? The fight ended with a spinning time vortex in the sky created by the machine hurtling the Pilgrims and their weapons to… somewhere. Perhaps this digs too deep into the talking turkey fiasco. But so many questions beg to be explored in this Thanksgiving movie available on Starz. Kidding aside, the film is aware of its ridiculous plot and often breaks the fourth wall. It’s funny at times and its presentation is visually appealing. It’s a fun movie for the family this Thanksgiving season… but very, very unusual.

Is Free Birds the weirdest Thanksgiving movie ever made? | Pretty Reel