Last night, I took the kids to go see "Free Birds" before it disappeared from theaters. For those who haven't heard of it, it's an animated movie about how a couple of turkeys go back in time to try and get turkeys off the Thanksgiving menu. It'll never win awards for originality, but it had a certain charm and more than a few laughs, so was worth it for us.
But one aspect disappointed me, if only because it seemed like such a missed opportunity. The turkey sidekick is named Jake, a buff not so bright guy who drags our unwilling hero back in time. Back in 1621, they run into a flock of turkeys, and Jake gets into a macho contest with the chief's son Ranger, another buff not so bright guy. This is played for laughs, though my brain kept seeing romance potential.
Yes, I really did just admit to seeing romance potential between a pair of male animated turkeys.
But hear me out. Jake obviously admires Ranger. He mimics him, all the way until they get into an actual fight. A fight, by the way, that devolves into literal dancing. DANCING. With no embarrassment. Just two guys (okay, turkeys, but male nonetheless), enjoying being physically intimate with another in a way usually reserved for het couples in animation.
They became sorta buddies after that, and their bromance is more than a little adorable. So when it reached the end, I fully expected the movie to take that extra step and have Jake and Ranger ride off into the virtual sunset together (albeit as friends with the rest of it up to our imaginations). Color me disappointed they copped out of that. What could've been a great chance to introduce this potential relationship as normal to kids was wasted.
Plus, Jake and Ranger were totally cheated out of their happy ending.
Am I surprised? Not really. It's still an animated holiday movie, for goodness sake. But it would've been nice to have it go in that direction. With LGBT lifestyles becoming more accepted among the norm, this could've been another step in portraying them as such in mass media.
And if kids-oriented animated holiday films aren't the ideal medium for happy endings, what are?