While we wouldn't quite call Free Birds
a good idea, there are so many children's pics waiting to collide at the Christmas line of scrimmage that any cartoon set during November (even a mismatched pair of turkeys traveling through time to steer the first Thanksgiving away from poultry) seems, well, smart business. Helmed by Horton Hears a Who!
vet Jimmy Hayward and voiced by an enviable troupe of A-listers, the resulting feature arrives with sweeping inoffensiveness and large personalities. Woody Harrelson's grizzled self-satire as a Turkey Liberation Front radical might actually comfort both sides of the vegan divide. If the film changes any Thanksgiving menus, credit less the mixed moral lesson than the impossibly unappetizing depictions: These turkeys resemble golf-club cozies in pastel-colored suede jackets. And, if we must watch another iteration of an adorably feckless fellow wooing an officious overachiever, Owen Wilson and Amy Poehler know the roles pretty well. For a production so strictly manufactured, there's an addled comedic sensibility given blessedly free range. Children won't understand any of the jokes, of course, but this isn't really a kid’s movie. The nimble tiptoe past racially sensitive issues and the Brueghelian tint of the computer animation tend toward the dully ominous, and the only interesting character development plays strictly for adults. Neither kids nor parents will be happy, exactly, but that's not the point of Thanksgiving. We gather together, ignore the dry white meat, and load up on the stuffing.