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Movie preview

  • AF-0325 REGGIE (Owen Wilson, left) and JENNY (Amy Poehler, right) and the wild turkeys of the past in Relativity Media's "FREE BIRDS.” Image Courtesy of Reel FX and Relativity Media ©2013 Turkey's Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

"Epic," "Monsters University," "Planes," "Escape from Planet Earth," "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" and "Turbo" — all major pictures that hint at a talent pool spread absurdly thin and an industry with sneering contempt for its audience. ("Animate it, charge 3-D prices and their parents will grit their teeth and bear it!")

A start-up division called Reflex Animation did "Free Birds." Relativity is releasing it.

They make the same mistakes that generations of animators made before them, having a cute idea and a feeble script to go with it, lining up a "name" voice cast to over-compensate.

Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler and George Takei — funny folks, one and all.

Yet there's barely a laugh in it. The strain shows, right at the opening credits, when a title tells us this "is loosely based" on a true story — "unless, of course" you take into account the talking turkeys who talk turkey.

Well, guffaw.

Wilson voices Reggie, a scrawny Jeremiah at his turkey farm, the one guy to figure out why he and his flock are being fattened up.

"Turkeys are dumb," he narrates as his peers clap as friends and family are dragged off to "turkey paradise."

But Reggie is that lucky bird who wins a presidential pardon. The gag writers thought it would be cute to make this Southern president with the bratty daughter Clintonian. Hellooo, 1996.

Reggie has barely settled into a pampered life of pizzas and TV watching at Camp David when the demented Jake (Harrelson) shows up to birdnap him and enlist Reggie in his mission — to steal the secret Camp David time machine, travel back to early America and change Thanksgiving history, "to get turkey OFF the menu."


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