FilmOpinion

Opinion: Four Bird-Themed Movies to Watch This Thanksgiving

Laura Cafasso ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer 

Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or an omnivore, you have to face the cold cranberry sauce: Thanksgiving is about the turkey. Family too, but the whole gathering and holiday centers around the preparation, cooking, basting, presentation, and carving of that juicy dinosaur descendant. But how did the turkey get to that dinner table? That could be a story saved for a horror film (Food, Inc.).  But, there are films about birds to consider if you’re sick of watching the parade and the dog show:

1. Chicken Run

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Chicken Run. Photo Credit: DreamWorks Distribution.

Released in 2000 by DreamWorks and Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit shorts, Flushed Away), this adorable Claymation tells the story of a Ginger (Julia Sawalha) and her gang of determined chickens to outwit their farmers and achieve freedom from certain death (in a chicken pot pie). Along with the shifty rooster Rocky (Mel Gibson), they attempt “flying” despite their anatomy. It all comes to a head when Mr. Tweedy, the pushover husband, finally gets the chicken pot pie machine working. They have to act fast unless they want to be in the frozen food section of a supermarket. Recommendation: watch this after eating your Thanksgiving turkey (or ham, or tofurkey, or whatever is the trend nowadays) because otherwise, you’ll feel guilty, wondering if factory farm chickens are actually capable of thought, deceiving farmers, and knitting.

2. The Birds

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Tippi Hendron and Rod Taylor in The Birds. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

If you’re in a dark mood, then Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 The Birds is perfect. It absurdly focuses on everyday birds attacking innocent residents of Bodega Bay, California, including one of Hitchcock’s blonde beauties, Tippi Hendron. The inexpiable nature of the violent birds is frustrating, but also makes you suspicious of any crowd sitting on telephone wires. What is also unsettling is the fact that real birds were used in the production. In her new autobiography, Tippi, Hendron details that Hitchcock promised mechanical birds would be thrown at her in the climatic bedroom scene, but right before they started rolling, she was blindsided with agitated, real birds. For five days, she was bombarded with pigeons, ravens, and doves. She just about suffered a mental breakdown, so is it barely “acting,” and just unadulterated terror and exhaustion.

3. Looney Tunes: Back In Action 

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Brendan Fraser in Looney Tunes: Back In Action. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Yes, this 2003 movie is ridiculous (how much did they pay Steve Martin?) but campy enough to be hilarious. Combining live action with animation, this box office bomb explored a movie star playing a spy that actually is a spy, world domination, and the age old question: rabbit or duck season? D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) must save his father from the Acme Corporation as they pursue the powerful blue diamond, which can turn everyone on earth into thoughtful monkeys (aka dutiful consumers of Acme products). The comradely between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck is as fresh and funny as ever, which makes up for Fraser’s awkward, “action” hero persona. Also, Daffy finally gets to be the star for once.

4. Piper

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Piper. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Technically, this isn’t a feature-length film, but arguably conveys a more touching and complete story despite only lasting six minutes. You can always count on Pixar to come up with an emotive short but this truly takes the prize. A baby sandpiper tries to join her mother and the rest of flock in gathering food but is traumatized by an ocean wave. However, noticing the technique of the hermit crabs, the baby sandpiper learns to avoid the wave’s impact and appreciate the beauty of the world whether it’s on land or underwater.

So sit back, relax, and appreciate birds for a little while during this Thanksgiving break. Celebrate all kinds, but keep vigilant: they’re smarter than they seem.

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