1 December 2013 | TheLittleSongbird
Falls into the "not that bad but could have been much better" category
Free Birds is not really a good or great film, nor is it terrible. If there was a word to sum it up it would be mediocre. Is it the worst animated film of the year? No, that dishonour goes to Sir Billi(which was billed as Sean Connery's comeback!). Is it the best? Again, no, that's so far been between Monsters University and Despicable Me 2(have high hopes for Frozen, and that is looking like that will be even better than these two). Free Birds does have a few things that came off well. The animation has some nice bright colours and attention to detail(though the character designs could have been smoother in places), the soundtrack is catchy, the scene with the hunters destroying the turkey's nest is indeed tense and the voice acting has the right amount of zest and energy, Woody Harrelson is almost unrecognisable and is clearly having fun, Amy Poehler should do voice acting more often because she is born to do it and Owen Wilson brings some distinctive quirkiness as well(if at times on the one-note side). George Takei while bringing dignity to his part is very underused though, and it does feel like a waste. There are a lot of flaws as well unfortunately. The script lacks crispness and wit and has an overkill of turkey jokes that are both contrived and dumb, some gags are stretched out to pointlessness while the slapstick is heavy on predictability and over-broadness and light on fun and invention.
With the target audience too, children may enjoy it if they understand the humour but it is likely to go over the heads of adults. If that is the case, considering that Free Birds is a family film(NOT a kids' film) the film only does half its job well, if children are not amused it's a failure. Where I was, the reception from both children and adults were largely the latter, but then again it will be different with you. The story is well-intended but is far too simple- even for a family film- and predictable, while it also doesn't do anything with the time travel idea(which had great potential) that comes at the expense of the humour, which very little hits the mark really. The message is good if clumsily and heavy-handedly incorporated(likewise with the few emotional parts that were more manipulative than heartfelt), and there's no better about the characters unfortunately who suffer from flat personalities(some like Jake irritating too) and dealt with far too simplistically to the extent we know little about them. Non-US viewers may also find that because the film is so rooted in American customs and their early history that that is a further reason why the humour is likely to be lost on them. In conclusion, the potential and intentions are there, and it is not as bad as others have said- because the animation, music and voices are good and one scene came off well- but it was lacking in a lot of areas- mostly the humour and the story- and had a lot of wasted potential(doing little with the time travel idea and under-using George Takei). Despite how this sounds, it isn't terrible but rather mediocre, and this is not being said with vehemence but with a heavy heart from a 21-year old animation fan(to avoid over-generalising that defending of panned family films are prone to). 4/10 Bethany Cox