Reggie (voiced by Owen Wilson) is a turkey on a turkey farm, and seems to be the only one who realizes the fate that's in store for him and all the others there. Fate intervenes one day as the President of the United States comes to his farm to pardon the Thanksgiving turkey, him! Now he gets to enjoy the good life, all the food he can eat, his own robe and slippers, and being able to live without fear.
Reggie's easy life is soon disrupted by Jake (Woody Harrelson), a fanatic turkey who drags him along with an insane idea: go back in time to make sure turkeys are not part of the first Thanksgiving. Through foolhardiness and luck, the pair manage to take an experimental time machine to do just that.
Now in 1621 at the Plymouth colony, Reggie and Jake find themselves in the middle of a turkey clans struggle for survival. Along the way, Reggie finds himself falling for the turkey chief's daughter Jenny (Amy Poehler). During their mission, Reggie and Jake's preconceptions of the world and themselves are challenged forever in a conflict from which the world will never be the same.
It was released on November 1, 2013, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Free Birds provide examples of:
- Artistic License History: Disclaimer at the beginning: "The following film is a work of fiction. It is loosely based on historical and is in no way meant to be historically accurate. Except for the talking turkeys. They were totally real." With that out of the way...
- That turkeys were the central course at the first Thanksgiving dinners. In reality, deer and other birds took precedence, with turkeys only becoming iconic much, much later.
- The pilgrims were not starving before what we call the first Thanksgiving. They had a bountiful harvest that they were thankful to God for—that's why it's called Thanksgiving.
- Blind Obedience: Jake attempts to invoke it, but it doesn't workJake: The enemy is approaching! You must follow me blindly!
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The TV remote control that Reggie accidentally brings with him is later used to ward off the dogs when he and Jake blow up the weapons shack.
- Likewise, Reggie's love for pizza comes into great play when it replaces turkeys on the holiday menu.
- The Chief's Daughter: Jenny fits it perfectly. She becomes the Chief after Broadbeak's Heroic Sacrifice.
- Dumb Muscle: Jake is much bigger and stronger than Reggie, and seemingly the one with the plan, but considering that Jake talks to his own reflection...
- Eye Scream: In the government base, Jake tries to distract a few guards by throwing a lug nut, which rebounds off several surfaces before coming back and getting lodged in Reggie's eye.
- Faceless Mooks: The guys guarding the time machine, who laugh maniacally as they brandish their flamethrowers.
- Fourth Wall Psych: In this exchange:Jake: We're going back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu!
Reggie: Who are you talking to?
Jake: [Points to the audience] This guy right here. [cut to showing him looking at his reflection] He totally gets it! See how he's nodding?
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- In the scene where Reggie switches the president's daughter's remote for the president's, one of the pens on the table is from Chrono Lab 2, foreshadowing the secret time travel base.
- While Reggie watches TV for the first time, there's an momentary view of two hockey players, who are clearly wearing Vancouver Canucks jerseys (though you only see the "Vancouver" part, not the logo or team name).
- Fun with Acronyms: The time machine is the Space Time Exploration Vehicle Envoy (S.T.E.V.E.)
- The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson: "Those are some Angry Birds."
- Giving Radio to the Romans: Parodied. Reggie offers pizza to the attendees of the first Thanksgiving, preventing turkeys from being on the menu on an annual schedule.
- Glass Smack and Slide: During the activation of the Time Machine, which cause some serious magnetic/gravitic anomalies, the chrononaut and a guard are pressed against the large glass window of the control room, on which they slide sideways under the confused eyes of the President, the General and the technicians. Then the machine departs and the gravity return to normal, leaving the chrononaut and guard sliding down normally.
- Hypocritical Humor:[Reggie approaches an old turkey mumbling to himself]
Reggie: Looks like it's just you and me.
Old Turkey: Beat it, weirdo! [continues mumbling to himself]
- Ink-Suit Actor:
- It's All My Fault: Reggie says this after the turkeys' home is destroyed, with many captured and the chief dying (as mentioned above).
- Kill It with Fire: For some reason, fire is the preferred weapon of the guards at the facility Reggie and Jake invade. Perhaps it's to cook them?
- Kissing Discretion Shot: Reggie and Jenny kiss off-screen to avoid Alternate Animal Affection.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Jake looks incredibly guilty when he sees that his action of accidentally leading the pilgrims to their nest caused the nest's destruction and Chief Broadbeak's death.
- The Native Rival: Jake and Ranger are both the Boisterous Bruiser, Dumb Muscle type, and Ranger doesn't appreciate Jake showing up suggesting war to a peaceful flock. They don't see eye-to-eye, at least at first.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The trophy Jake takes from the Plymouth colony in order to prove his heroism to the wild turkeys ends up leading the colonists straight to their nest.
- Only Sane Man: Reggie seems to be the only turkey on the farm who realizes what their fate will be.
- Plot Hole: When Reggie goes back (forward?) to his own time, he meets two other versions of himself that are from the future, but none of them know that they are the Great Turkey and it takes STEVE to figure it out, how did the other versions not know if they were him from the future? Then at the end of the movie Reggie stays with the flock in the past, so how did those future Reggie's travel back in time to meet their former self, and if they were (are whatever!) the Reggie we see now, how did they not know they were the great turkey?
- Powder Trail: Jake accidentally leaves one that leads the pilgrims to the turkeys' hideout.
- Product Placement:
- Chuck E. Cheese pizza ends up saving the day.
- Early in the film Reggie is watching telenovelas on Univision.
- There is an Old Navy symbol in the government base's floor map, implying that they somehow built a store there.
- Rushmore Refacement: The epilogue shows a photograph of Mount Rushmore with a turkey joining the Presidents.
- Sapient Eat Sapient: Turkeys have enough intelligence to travel through freaking time, but evidently just informing the humans of their sapience via written language or other shows of intelligence is simply not an option from the get-go.
- The Stinger:Jake: Have you heard about the TURDUCKEN?
- Self-Deprecation: The tagline proclaims the film to be "the greatest turkey movie of all time". A "turkey" is a nickname for a terrible film.
- From the trailer, while the turkeys shoot flaming pumpkins at the Indians:Native American: Those are some angry birds.
- Also, the scene where Jake steals Standish's powder horn is reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- The time travel sequence is reminiscent of the wormhole sequence in Contact.
- Upon getting rescued, Amos happily goes on a tangent about his hopes that he and Furley will get "taken Back to the Future and go on an excellent adventure".
- From the trailer, while the turkeys shoot flaming pumpkins at the Indians:
- Stable Time Loop: Jake said he was inspired by "The Great Turkey" when he was younger. It turns out that Reggie in the time machine was "The Great Turkey" who purposefully invoked this trope.
- Succession Crisis: Averted. Ranger is more than willing to let Jenny take charge after they determine that their late father's wish was for Jenny to lead the tribe.
- That Poor Cat: A cat screams when Governor Bradford tosses a pitchfork aside.
- This Is a Work of Fiction: "The following film is a work of fiction. It is loosely based on historical events and is in no way meant to be historically accurate. Except for the talking turkeys. That part is totally real."
- Time Travel: To get back to the first Thanksgiving.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: A whole flock of future Reggies shows up to tell Reggie what he needs to do.
- Too Dumb to Live: Captain Miles Standish when he jumps on the cannon and lights it to fire at the turkeys while it's being sucked into the vortex in the sky created by The Time Machine when Reggie travels back in time to get turkeys off the menu by giving The Pilgrims and The Indians free pizza. The fact that he gets sucked into outer space is not surprising. Overlaps with *Villain Ball and *Idiot Ball.
- Troubled Backstory Flashback: Jake. He grew up in a factory farm, attempted to escape with unhatched eggs in order to start a new flock, but couldn't get the eggs through the fence.
- What's a Henway?: Occurs when the guards see Jake and Reggie's break-in.Guard: Control, we have a contaminant.
Control: Copy that, what type, Agent?
Guard: Turkey, sir. How do we address it?
Control: Uh, with cranberry sauce.
Guard: —but seriously.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Reggie and the other turkeys call out Jake when he unintentionally reveals their location to the Pilgrims (due to a gunpowder trail he accidentally left when they blew up the weapons shack).