Dallas animation studio Reel FX makes their big splash into animated features this weekend with the release of their first film Free Birds. Directed by Jimmy Hayward and released by Relativity Media, the film follows the adventures of two turkeys (voiced by Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson) who travel back in time to take turkeys off the first Thanksgiving menu.
The film has the dubious distinction of being this year’s worst reviewed animated feature. The average critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes is just 22% positive, which is even lower than Weinstein Co.’s Escape from Planet Earth.
The standard criticism has been that the film is unoriginal, as per Miriam Bale’s review in the New York Times:
It is, quite accurately, I think, as if someone said, “Let’s make Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure starring turkeys!” Some of the same visuals and plot points from that 1980s classic are copied here, without any of its inventiveness and singular tone. It takes a certain brilliance to do dumb well, but the makers of Free Birds have not displayed this quality.
The silver lining is that audiences, especially those with kids, may like this good-natured film. The film currently has a 73% Rotten Tomatoes audience rating which is higher than Epic and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. (Caveat: the sample size of the audience rating is smaller than the other films since the film just opened.)
Now it’s your turn. After you see Free Birds, report back here with your thoughts in the comments below. As always, this talkback is reserved for readers who have seen the film and wish to comment on it. Any general comments about the film will not be approved.
(Free Birds billboard via Daily Billboard)