A new player in the realm of kids' animated films enters the field with 2013's Free Birds, the first feature from the studio Reel FX. In a genre already crammed with competing production companies like DreamWorks, Pixar, Blue Sky, and even Aardman (the Wallace and Gromit guys), it's a worthy question as to whether a new contributor can add much to this saturated market. Lucky for us, the answer is yes.
The movie follows the story of two spunky turkeys (voices of Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson) that are sent back to the year 1621 in an egg-shaped time machine voiced by George Takei to save their ancestors from getting slaughtered at the first Thanksgiving. This sounds kind of horrifying, but it's actually pretty funny -- the jokes and gags are definitely written with a dry sensibility that makes them completely tolerable for parents, while maintaining enough heart to keep the tone nice and sweet (though rarely saccharine, thank God). The flock have to scramble and squawk and eventually band together to hurl flaming pumpkins at the bad guy, which is funny and exciting -- especially if you're eight.
In case you're wondering how a story like this can resolve itself without being either bloody and terrifying or weirdly political (SPOILER ALERT), Owen Wilson's character uses his time machine to bring back a bunch of pizzas for the pilgrims and Native Americans, thus rescuing his brethren from slaughter forevermore. Kind of perfect, right? So you've got one less family film that you have to worry will make you want to wretch. Now there's something to be thankful for.