Sunday, November 03, 2013

Trailer for FREE BIRDS

Thanks to Ernest Whiteman of Adobe Youth Voices, I just took a look at the trailer for the new movie, Free Birds. In it, turkeys travel back in time to 1621 to get turkeys off the Thanksgiving menu. I just watched the trailer. Here's a screenshot of the bad guys who want to kill the turkeys:

And, here's the battle that takes place. See how the turkeys are shown? (See note #1 below.)

Apparently, the turkeys play drums, chant, and speak in broken English. The reviewer at the San Francisco Gate points to, and questions the inclusion of a turkey "who sounds like the Taco Bell Chihuahua," but doesn't note the stereotypical feathers and facepaint. In a Reuter's interview, the director says he didn't want to make the film into a history lesson:
"There's a lot of stuff about Thanksgiving that's not that nice, there's a lot about the settling of the United States that I couldn't show."
Not sure what to say about that... 'cept WTF? The review at the New York Times says:
"Free Birds" is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested) for some action/peril, rude humor and exploding waddles.
Their review says nothing about how the turkeys are shown. Here's the poster featuring Jenny. Is she really called "Hot Wings" in the film?!

Looking over the cast names at IMBD, it says "Jenny," so I have no idea why the poster says "Hot Wings" on it. Maybe she's looking at Reggie (voiced by Owen Wilson) and thinking HE is "Hot Wings." She is his love-interest. He's from the present day; she's---I guess---a Wampanoag turkey in 1621. I wonder---is "Massasoit" (also in the film), a turkey? Or a person?

The review at tells us that there's a feisty turkey named Jenny (voiced by Amy Poehler), and that her dad, "Chief Broadbeak" is a tribal leader. It ends with this:
Worst of all, "Free Birds" aims for historical significance by using the turkey slayings as a metaphor for the cruelties Native Americans have suffered.

Overall, the movie sounds awful in so many ways. If you've seen it, I'd appreciate your comments on what you saw/thought.


Update, 3:00 PM, November 3, 2013: I'll add more as I find it... On the Facebook page for the film, I found another clip. Who are these guys?! In Plains style attire?! And are those horse ears in the foreground?

Update, 3:15 PM, November 3, 2013: This guy approaches a turkey in facepaint and raises his wing up... He doesn't say "how" as he does it, but he tries to draw the attention of the turkey in facepaint to that upraised wing.

Update, 4:00 PM, November 4, 2013: Indian Country Today published a review of the movie on October 7, 2013. Take a look: 'Free Birds' Tells Wrong Story, Inaccurately. And Vanity Fair's reviewer called it misguided: Film Review: 'Free Birds'.

Note #1: A couple of people (see comments) pointed out my typo in writing "turkey's" instead of "turkey." I've corrected the error.  Even when they're snarky, I welcome comments about typos and other errors.


Lisa Jones said...

WTF, indeed. That's just awful. Not just because of the Indian issues, but as a movie. I'm assuming that the target audience is ages 2-4, so which parent would want to show their toddler that??? Ew.

Retired Librarian said...

This movie sounds pretty bad. I often agree with your comments and even when at first I don't agree they usually make me think about the issue. But I have another issue this time. Why in the world did you put an apostrophe in turkey every time you used it in the plural. You know better.

Anonymous said...

After reading your review, I think I will go see it to critique it. I am pretty curious what the message is about and what they got wrong or maybe right. I cringe when Hollywood tries to do some historical movie for kids, because Hollywood doesn't appear to do much research when they put a movie together.
-Kathleen, Librarian

Anonymous said...

i havent seen the movie either, but I've read that turkeys were much less important to the meal than other wildfowl, venison, and shellfish/eels. The whole premise seems ridiculous considering the historical context. How do you even consider making a historical fiction movie without researhcing the history?
-Dana, librarian

Anonymous said...

Maybe you would be taken more seriously if you learned the proper plural of turkey.

Anonymous said...

I won't be needlessly rude like the people above, but there are still two instances of turkey's where it should be turkeys

Anonymous said...

Why do you expect an animated film to be researched so fully? I don't take talking fowl too seriously.