Many animated feature films are about weird creatures engaged in far-out activities and antics, but “Free Birds” strives to be more relevant and potentially significant by latching on to Americans’ traditional Thanksgiving feast and celebration for its thematic fulcrum and linchpin.
This savvy decision makes the movie less ephemeral, giddy and silly than other efforts, so the production is more consistently viewable.
Another plus factor is its decision to factor in a subplot that involves its feathered protagonist’s mission to prevent the extermination of native-American turkeys at the US colonies’ first Thanksgiving feast.
Miles Standish has had to be transformed into a villainous character to make this possible, but worse historical sins have been committed in the perverse name of cinematic entertainment, so what the hey—!
As this movie reimagines it, turkeys in a huge fattening “factory” choose a young “turk” to escape the facility with a few eggs to start a new colony of “free birds” elsewhere—but, their hero ends up a big zero when he loses hold of his cache of eggs!
He loses all hope of helping his beleaguered species—until he unexpectedly ends up as the token, symbolic bird that no less than the President of the United States ritually “pardons” every year at Thanksgiving, and is allowed to live forever—at the White House, yet!
Despite his cushy good fortune, however our feathered friend can’t forget his original mission—and is able to fulfill it after a series of amazing events—like, would you believe, stowing away on a revolutionary time machine that takes him all the way back to the first Thanksgiving feast, way back when?
It’s all fantasticating fluff, of course, but the Thanksgiving theme continues to keep the loopy storytelling on relatively even keel.
On his new adventure in the distant part, our hero meets a flock of other rebellious birds who bravely oppose Standish and his mangy and hungry cohorts.
Naturally, his new friends include a young “tomboy-princess” who not only makes him feel gooey all over, but eventually gets to lead her rebel army to victory! —How’s that for a politically correct denouement?
Before that happens, however, the flick’s resident human villains are allowed to have the run of the place, to force our heroes to do their best to rise up to the increasingly rigorous challenge.
—Not to worry though, the film is decidedly rooting for the good guys—and birds—so “no animals were hurt (or baked) in the course of making this movie!”
In any case, this is an animated feature, so if any turkeys are shown meeting their Maker—don’t worry, they’re all of the digitized sort.
Now, about that big Thanksgiving feast at the end of the film: How did they pull it off without the usual baked and stuffed turkey treats? No spoilers here, but let’s just say that they were replaced by a more modern gustatory offering that involves—a delivery boy!
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