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Free Birds quick temporal survey

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We mentioned having seen Free Birds, the animated romp in which two turkeys travel to Plymouth Rock to attempt to save the entirety of the turkey population by removing themselves from the menu. The movie is enjoyable, certainly not a turkey itself, but definitely a time travel disaster.

Let this be a spoiler alert: the entire plot is about to unravel into this article. If you have not seen the movie, you might enjoy it a bit more if you watch it before you read this. On the other hand, it is probably good enough to be worth watching even if you know its secrets in advance. You have been alerted.

It begins with two turkeys, Reggie an intelligent nerdy misfit who has been trying to warn the other idiot barnyard turkeys that the farmers do not love them and ultimately will kill them all and eat them. He stumbles into the unusual fate of being the pardoned turkey who then becomes playmate of the daughter of the President of the United States. He quickly learns how to order pizza and bill it to the White House, and becomes friends, of a sort, with the delivery boy. The other, Jake, was a chick whose mother managed to smuggle him out of the poultry production factory, but who could not save the eggs she gave him. As he is feeling miserable about this, someone appears from the sky, introducing himself as The Great Turkey, and sends him on an elaborate mission that begins with kidnapping the pardoned turkey and then stealing a secret government time machine to complete the previously mentioned mission. He is given a "special" doorknob that is supposed to protect him. Somehow along the way he grows into a brave and strong adult turkey with, as he himself says, nothing in his head.

Again through a comedy of errors they succeed in getting aboard the time machine, called S.T.E.V.E., and arrive in the past. They immediately meet the local turkeys, the misfit turkey falling in love with Jenny, a hen who is a bit of an odd bird herself but happens to be daughter of the Chief Broadbeak. (Turkey society has much in common with the Native Americans, but then, in a sense they are that.) They are staying one step ahead of the evil Myles Standish, who has promised Governor Bradford that there will be turkeys for his upcoming feast with the local indians but cannot seem to deliver. He shows Jenny the time machine, but as much as she likes him, she is determined to save her flock. Reggie agrees to help.

Unfortunately, working with Jake brings disaster, as Standish finds the hidden nest and captures a large number of birds, which are caged back at the town. Broadbeak is killed in the attack (but not taken), and then it is found that Jenny, not her brother, was her father's choice to replace him. A dejected Reggie takes the time machine back to the future.

He arrives early, and opening a door he encounters himself, slams the door, and winds up with the doorknob in his hand. He then has discussions with three versions of himself who chose to pop in from the future to talk to him about it, until S.T.E.V.E. clarifies it all, that Reggie is The Great Turkey. Steve and Reggie find the young Jake, make the pronouncement (with appropriate special effects), and give Jake the doorknob. But in the past, Jake and Jenny are preparing to lead the turkeys against the fort, which is preparing to defend itself with cannons.

Reggie and S.T.E.V.E. appear just in time to stop the cannonfire, and then with S.T.E.V.E. translating (the birds can talk to the ship, but people can't understand them) he introduces pizza to the pilgrims and the indians, the pizza delivery boy bringing stacks of boxes from the ship to feed everyone. Thanksgiving is born, and the turkeys are all released unharmed to share the pizza. Reggie stays in the past with Jenny, while Jake boards S.T.E.V.E. intending to be some kind of superhero through time and space.

Glaring problems:

  • If they have changed history so that turkeys are not on the menu, how do they know that turkeys were ever on the menu so that they can change it?
  • If at the end Reggie stays in the past and Jake takes the time machine, how do Reggie's future selves come back to visit him?
  • If Reggie became The Great Turkey that launched the mission because he had been on the mission, how did the mission get started originally?
  • If for generations turkeys have not been raised, killed, and eaten, how does it happen that Reggie and Jake were actually born in this altered universe?

These issues and others will be addressed once the film is available on video. Obviously some of them are fatal to the story, but we will explore possible answers when we get there.


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