Hello, Spongey here.
So, today is Thanksgiving. For normal people, that means it’s to give thanks and also eat a lot. But for everyone on the internet, it’s time to use as an excuse to review Thanksgiving specials!
This year, I wanted to cover what is obviously the best Thanksgiving special ever made…but I already did FrankenTurkey so I’ll do this one instead. Here is an animated film from last year that gained some infamouy for it’s premise alone.
We’ll get to that in the review proper. But honestly, I was hyped up when I heard the premise, because it sound so hilariously stupid. Even when I saw the lackluster trailer, I was hoping It would be an okay film.
Then the reviews came on. Yeah, pretty much everyone hated it. Though I chalked it up to losers not seeing the brilliance in this amazing premise. But yeah, their criticisms sounded valid.
I watched it a bit ago, and well…you’ll see when we get into it. Let’s get into the pointless details. The director previously made Horton Hears a Who, (which is a much better movie) and the other writers is mostly known for producing Kevin Smith movies.
Also, this movie was made by a Real FX as their first film, as they previously made shorts and specials. Their next film was Book of Life. That’s like if Dreamworks went from Antz to How To Train Your Dragon. But I digress.
Let’s dig in and see how well this Thanksgiving flick turned out. Get ready for a lot some really complicated stuff..
This, is Free Birds
The movie opens with….this.
“The follow film is a work of fiction. It is loosely based on on historical events and is in no way meant to be historically accurate. …Except the for the talking turkeys. That party is totally real”
Okay, right off the bat, we know it’s not meant to be taken seriously. Yeah, that was pretty funny and believe it or not, it’s not our last funny joke.
The movie actually starts with Owen Wislon telling us Thanksgiving and how it’s all about food. And not you know…giving. After the title card, we find out our narrator is a turkey named Reggie.
He lives on a farm full of Turkeys that are supposed to be eaten by the family that owns it. However, everyone is so dumb they don’t even realize it, and thus don’t believe Reggie when he raves about it.
“Turkeys are dumb”
Reggie goes on to tell us about how he never fits in and all that. He feels like he doesn’t belong. Yeah, it’s that cliché and they kind of play it straight. We’ll get back to that later. One day, the turkeys figure out that Reggie has been right all around just as some men show up take a turkey.
They sacrifice Reggie because…reasons. What dicks. As it turns out Reggie is being taken by the president (who is white, by the way) to be the pardoned Turkey. Yeah, most of the first quarter has nothing to do with anything but it’s set up so whatever. Plus, the first 20 minutes or so are the best part.
At Camp David, Reggie starts living a life of luxury, which involves a few decent gags. He mostly orders a lot of pizza, and the boxes are labled as Chuck E Cheese, even though the ad he saw the pizza from was just a generic Pizza place.
…Also, since when did they deliver? Also, PRODUCT PLACEMENT!
Reggie has everything he could want but of course that all goes downhill. One night, a big dude kidnaps him and takes out him out to the Forrest. We’re only 9 minutes in, by the way. Bad pacing ftw!
This guy is a turkey named Jake, voiced by Woody Harrelson. He’s this super serious dude, who is a bit dense, which is kind of amusing at first. He knows Reggie’s name as “He” told Jake everything about him.
“Who is he?”
“The Great Turkey. He appeared in the sky, in a bright ball of light with a voice that came from everywhere. He gave me a mission, told me I need to find you, and he gave me this”
This, being a sacred time knob. And oh boy, just you wait til you find out who the great turkey is…
Jake breaks into a military base. What’s in there that he needs?
“A time machine”
…Why do they need it?
“We’re going back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkey’s off the menu”
And he turns to the camera.
“That’s right. We’re going back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkey’s off the menu”
“…Who are you talking to?”
He’s talking to his reflection.
I love everything about that part, from the reveal, to the part where they pretty much tell us that they know how dumb this premise is.
And yes, this is our premise. Yes, it’s a weird idea for a movie. Yes, it makes no sense as Turkey was not served at the first Thanksgiving. But I don’t care, I love it. It’s so hilarious dumb, and it has potential to be great!
And it’s not like it’s meant to be taken seriously. The opening and this part pretty much tells us that they know this is a dumb concept, and we shouldn’t take it too seriously. And in the first quarter, they do it okay.
But unfortunately, some great premises don’t have great execution. You’ll see as we go along. So yeah, they’re off to find the time machine. They discover the secret base and while Reggie isn’t on board with it, he’s along for the ride anyway.
The banter between the two is honestly kind of amusing, and the voice acting for the two is solid as well. I honestly have mostly positive things to say until the actual plot starts. Also, this place must has crap security if the two turkey’s were able to get in.
We cut to the time machine HQ Room or whatever, as we find out the Government is doing their first test with it right now. Also, I think the president has a Bill Clinton voice.
Some guards see the turkeys as they are running around.
“How do we address it , sir?’
“With Cranberry sauce”
The two make it to the time machine room just as the thing is starting up. They are able to get in thanks to the lack of security and they are notice and the guy inside is told to leave. The Turkeys get in anyway and they are trapped inside. . On top of that, the swirling time vortex prevents anyway from getting near the thing.
With that, the machine vanishes and the two birds are now traveling on the time stream. Also, the machine has voice, and that voice is George Takei.
Well, this is now the best movie ever made.
George explains how the time machine works. Jake tells it to take them to the first Thanksgiving and they are off. For once, I’ll leave the animation til the end, but I’ll say there are some cool effects here.
They soon arrive at the first site of the first Thanksgiving. Three days before, to be exact. The machine activates a cloaking thingy so Reggie can’t use it. Well, we have a plot convenience already.
Right away, they get chased by some wild dogs and a dude with a gun. I hope you like the action in these next few minutes, as it’s the last “Exciting” event for awhile. They escape the guy and bump into a girl turkey voiced by Amy Pohelor. Some other turkeys show up and ask our heroes what is going on.
Before they can ask questions, the men return and they must run away. After a chase scene, they make it to a tree cave hideout thing. Jake acts like a badass and tries to show up the leader, and they get into …well, a cock fight. Wait, they’re turkeys so the pun doesn’t work. Whatever.
Either way, they both lose. Back in the Pilgrim town, some people complain to the mayor, chief, leader…guy about the lack of food. However, he is saving food for the big upcoming feast. They need to make peace with the Indians for reasons you all remember from School.
The people don’t care but it doesn’t matter cuz Miles Standish, the guy with the big gun shows up. Miles Standish was a real guy and he mostly hunted down Native Americans. Here, he hunts Turkeys. In this movie the Turkeys are held back by white men.
…Uh….really unfortunate implications alert.
Anyway, back with our heroes, they make it to the Turkey HQ. Jake tries to be a leader, and tells them he has come from the future to stop Thanksgiving. No one wants to work under him, because the real chief comes in. His name is Broadbeak and he’s voiced by Keith David.
And it’s now the best movie ever again.
He doesn’t want anyone to fight and also he’s Jenny’s Dad. Of course he is. Jake tells him about his mission, and Broadbeak explains his back story. The turkeys were once free but when the settler came, they were forced into hiding. Again, really bad implications.
He shows them some baby turkeys and say their destiny lies with them. Whatever that means. Reggie and Jake can stay here as long as they follow the rules. So yeah, we’re getting in the rather generic section of the movie, with the bad implications, cliché, and weak humor. It’s trying but it’s not quite landing anymore. But it gets….worse? You’ll see.
Back in the human town, Standish tells the people where the turkeys might be. I must say that he’s not a bad villain, as he’s pretty badass despite how generic he is. Sadly they don’t do much with him in the end. The same can be said with all the characters, but more on that later.
The next day, some of the Turkeys head out to get Standish and his gang off their trail by setting off the traps they set. After a weird scene with Jake, some dogs chase Reggie and Jenny and they take refuge in the time machine. The machine hides them from the bad guys, and they fly off into the time stream to hide further.
This is so they can fit in a weird romantic moment between the two. Yeah, it’s weird. Anyway, she believes him about the future thing and once they are sure Standish is gone, they return. Well, that was kind of pointless, I guess.
There’s a bit with Jake but it cuts back to Reggie and Jenny because that so riveting. Who wants time travel action stuff when we have forced romance? That’s where it’s at.
Thankfully, Jake takes him aside and says they must stop the bad guys tonight as Thanksgiving is tomorrow. This takes us back to the Great Turkey stuff, as we find out Jake’s backstory.
Jake grew up in a clinical factory type place as his mother kept him hidden. She gave him some eggs and told him to go start a new flock. He escaped but he lost the eggs.
“I let down my family, and my flock”
Then a weird flash of light showed up, calling himself the great turkey. He gave Jake the “great time knob” and told him his whole mission. Oh look, an attempt at depth. It’s actually kind of interesting but it doesn’t quite work since the movie as a whole doesn’t utilize this character that well in the end.
I’ll get into this more later, but now I’ll say that the characters are decent, but they are used very poorly. But for this scene, the movie gets a “You Tried” sticker. So anyway, Reggie is on board now.
They must destroy the bad guys weapons so they can’t hunt down turkeys for the feast. So we get a scene of them trying to get into the weapons shed and long story short, they blow it up.
They make it back to HQ, and tell the others what happened. They’re happy about it. The settlers figure out that the turkeys did all of this, and Standish thinks they are magic.
“They’re playing with my mind, trying to drive me crazy!”
Back with Reggie, he asks Jenny to come back to the future with him. Before she can say anything, their HQ is blown up cuz of Standish using some fancy stuff the turkeys left behind. Reggie blames Jake for leading the settles to them. Standish shows up and the others try to take out the turkeys.
They off a big fire and the turkeys try to escape in a big epic chase scene thingy. Everyone escapes …except Keith David who has a big heroic sacrifice. Yes, we have a serious death scene/heroic sacrafice in a movie about time traveling turkeys.
…Yeah, no. I mean, the scene is well done, and hell, I’ve seen worse attempts at serious-ness but…it just doesn’t work. Because we barely knew him. Seriously, he’s in like one scene and we got no connection with him and Jenny. So when he dies all I can think is..
“Who was he again?”
Far be it from me to disgrace Keith David but…..this just doesn’t work. If you want us take you seriously, make us CARE first.
We get a big funeral scene and as hard as they try, they still can’t get me to care. But hell, they tried so it’s still better than Escape From Planet Earth. Anyway,Jenny is forced to become chief, because of course.
This inspires Jenny to start a big war with the settlers and Reggie blames himself for what happened. He’s about to go home but Jake wants to stay cuz of the whole great turkey stuff. However, Reggie wants to be a dick and leave instead of saving his new friends. And so he heads back to his own time.
Thankfully, none of what he did changed history for some reason. Not long after getting home, he bumps into…himself. Oh boy. Yep, he bumps into a future version of himself, who has come back to tell him something important.
“You’re an idiot’
Then another Reggie comes in from even farther in the future. There is no reason for there to be a third one, as he tells us something the first one could have told us: Everything Reggie has is back there and this fight they are starting is gonna put them in danger. Then one of them takes out the sacred time knob out of nowhere, and they don’t tell us what it is.
Reggie doesn’t know what this means until George speaks up.
‘You are the great turkey’
Yes, Reggie is the great turkey, and he has to back to give Young Jake his destiny. Yeah….this is really stupid and pointless. With pretty much every time travel movie ever, there’s a good reason to have a confusing paradox. Hell, usually they add to the movie, and make it more interesting.
Here, it’s really freaking pointless. It doesn’t add anything to the story. It’s just a dumb parodx for the sake of a dumb paradox! It’s weird and confusing and unlike other movies, there’s nothing good to make up for it.
And if you think anything that happens next gives this a point, than you are wrong. And if you think it’s so Reggie can realize his mistake, they could have had him realize that himself, without this crap.
And it’s not even the stupidest part of the movie. We’re not quite there yet. So Reggie goes back in time and pretends to be the great turkey for Young Jake. He tells him to find the pardoned trukey and yada yada. He gives him the time knob which…did nothing for Jake so why is it even here?
Back in the further past (ugh, time travel), the turkeys go to war and it’s…kind of awesome. The music is epic and the animation is at it’s best here. The scene is nice…until this line.
“Those are some angry birds”
Reggie returns and uses this weird wormhole thing to get rid of the settlers’ weapons. Standish tries to hold on to a cannon but he just gets sucked up into the wormhole and…dies I guess. No, killing a guy who was not meant to die at this doesn’t mess with history because waffles.
Reggie reveals himself to everyone and avoids an actual climax. Lame. He brings pizza for the settlers and Native Americans, and they all like it. He brings enough Pizza for everyone and peace is made with the Indians.
“Look everyone, I’m giving this Turkey thanks! …It’s a thanks…giving! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!”
This makes Reggie realize Thanksgiving is about spending time with others, and also not eating Turkeys I guess. It fades to the present, as we find out that Reggie effectively changed history so we have Pizza at Thanksgiving instead of Turkey.
…Yes, this is the stupidest part of the movie. I mean…WHAT. They actually succeed in taking Turkeys off the menu? There are SO MANY REASONS that this doesn’t work. Let’s go over the big ones:
Just by giving them a bunch of Pizza, they have that instead of Turkey. Yeah, the resources needed to make Pizza like that won’t exist for awhile, so when they run out, what’s gonna happen? Did they just go back and give them more when they need it? Yeah, that’ll work.
On top of that, there would way more changes to history if you did that and it wouldn’t all be pretty. I know some time travel movies ignore some changes for the sake of the plot, but even by those standards, this is really stupid.
It’s a happy ending, but it’s really forced and it makes no sense. And seriously, did Standish die? Whatever, this is one of the dumbest endings of any movie ever, and you know it. So let’s wrap this up.
Reggie decides to stay in the past with Jenny, which will also cause tones of history problem that this movie doesn’t’ go into. However, Jake decides to go off and so his own thing. He didn’t really learn anything, by the way.
He goes off in the time machine and it’s a big happy ending. Also, George says this.
They just had to, didn’t they?
Roll credits. Yes, it’s a REALLY abrupt ending that makes the movie worse. You know the drill by now. But wait, there’s a Mid Credits scene!
Jake returns to the past and he says this.
“I’ve actually been gone for years. Has anyone heard about the Turducken?”
Continue credits. …Yeah, that was really stupid. And it’s a hook for a sequel that will hopefully never happen. The end!
Well, that was really really …standard. It’s not nearly as bad as everyone says. Hell, it’s not even BAD, but it’s not good either. It’s really…average, in every aspect. Some parts go a bit above, and some parts go a bit below.
That’s this movies biggest problem. For a movie with such a high concept, it’s kind of boring and standard. The story is supposed to be basic and normal, and I suppose it works for what it is, but it never really tries to do anything special. And then throw in that stupid ending, but I’ve said enough about it.
The animation is equally standard. Nothing special and it gets the job done. Sometimes it looks like a direct to DVD film, but it does have it’s moments. The characters are…actually not bad, but they are used poorly.
Reggie is a likable chap, but he’s a bit too cliché and by the end, it seems like he learns the most basic lesson ever. He gets some good lines but he’s just there, you know. Jake is more complicated. He’s craziness is pretty funny at first, but in the middle he gets very little to do. He has a nice backstory, but in the end it doesn’t amount to much and it seems like he barely changes or learns anything.
Everyone else is just there. Jenny seems badass at first, but she’s just a bland love interest, and her Dad could have been cool but he ends up being pointless. Really, that death scene added nothing except a big war or whatever.
Standish fares a bit better, as he makes for a decent threat, but you guessed it, he doesn’t amount to much.
That’s this whole movie in a nutshell. It seems really promising but it ends up being…nothing. The terrible ending and implications don’t help either.
It’s sad, cuz it started off decent with some good jokes that let you know you shouldn’t take this seriously. It could have been one of the funnest movies of it’s year, but instead, one of the most boring.
Seriously, how do you make a movie about time traveling turkeys and make it so standard? It’s not painful at all, and it’s kind of watchable, but there is really no reason to watch it except out of curiosity.
I’ll stick to FrankenTurkey.
Happy Thanksgiving, guys. Next time, we start our yearly Christmas reviews with something…interesting. Yeah, that’s a good word for it.