Yellowbird is a 2014 animated film from the Paris based, TeamTO, being distributed in America by Lionsgate. Yellowbird tells the story of a bird with no name who ends up leading a small flock of birds on a cross country flight, trying to get to Africa. You can watch the trailer here.
Yellowbird was born an orphan and raised by a ladybug who never gave him a name, other than to call him Honey Bunny. He had never been anywhere, so when he was given the new migration directions by the dying leader of a small flock of birds, his adoptive mother convinces him that he needs to be the one to lead them, instead of passing the directions on to the next bird in line for the leadership position, like he was supposed to.
He takes charge, and the entire flock loves him, save for Karl, who was supposed to be the new leader. Yellowbird leads them on a cross-country adventure, supposedly to Africa, ignoring multiple signs that they are headed in the wrong direction. Karl tries to warn the flock that they are off-course, but they chalk his protests up to jealousy over the newcomer’s position. It isn’t until they end up in the arctic that anyone believes him.
With nowhere to go, the flock seems to accept that they are fated to freeze to death. Yellowbird realizes how foolish he had been, and apologizes, but doesn’t give up. He comes up a brilliant plan that just might save them all, but first he has to convince them to trust him again.
Yellowbird was a lot better than I had anticipated. I didn’t know what to expect when I volunteered to review it, but in watching the previews at the beginning, I realized that this was probably one movie in a long line of cheaply produced animated films, that end up relegated to the $1.99 bin at Wal-Mart. The previews at the beginning of the movie had me cringing the entire time with the awful dialogue and cheap, poor animation. I naturally assumed that this one would be exactly like that. Thankfully it was not.
That’s not to say this movie is great, though. In the age of Pixar, your animated movie has to be pretty awesome to stand up the likes of Finding Nemo, Up, and Wall-E. Yellowbird can’t even come close to any of those. This movie is squarely on average. It’s not great, but it is definitely not bad. It starts out pretty slow, and gets much better by the end, but that isn’t enough to save it.
The character design was pretty unique. You could tell that the animators probably didn’t have the software capable of rendering Pixar level feathers, so they came up with a pretty good work around. Instead of trying to do real feathers and failing, they came up with a very well done, stylized design that really worked well in place of realistic feathers, but that still wasn’t enough to save it.
The voice cast is great. Every single person voicing these characters did a great job. Yvette Nicole Brown was great as the adoptive ladybug mother; Dakota Fanning did a great job as Delf; Richard Kind was the funniest part of the film as Michka; and Seth Green was perfect for the scrawny Yellowbird. Everyone did a fantastic job voicing this film but even that wasn’t enough to save it.
The biggest problem with Yellowbird was the writing. Had someone on Pixar or even Dreamworks’ writing staff been at the helm of this movie, it could have been a very good, perhaps even great film. Without a great writer, the film ended up just being a solid okay.
Yellowbird was a mediocre movie, and I think kids will probably enjoy it. If you’re the parent of a kid under 10, it’s a pretty good bet that you won’t hate it if you have to sit through it, and your kids will probably really like it.
Yellowbird is not bad, it just doesn’t have nearly the same replay value that something like Toy Story or The Incredibles has. If you don’t go into this movie expecting great things, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
What about you? Have you seen Yellowbird? What did you think about it?
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden