Chicago mom takes on Free Birds with five boys

I am proud to say that I have mastered the art of bringing kids to the movies. While some moms take their children to things like the arboretum and the zoo, I prefer my wee lads properly restrained and rendered motionless. Being securely wedged between crowded aisle seats is right up my alley.

The second bit of knowledge I have acquired over the years is how to correctly order cinema snacks. You go for the motherload: the huge vat of popcorn and accompanying barrel of pop. You then ask for the courtesy bags and cups. Each child receives his own unblemished bag of vittles and fighting is kept to a minimum.

Confident in my motion picture child-trekking abilities, I packed up five boys this past weekend to go see the new movie, “Free Birds.” The story involves two turkeys traveling through time courtesy of a giant egg named “Steve.” Their purpose? Redefining the traditional Thanksgiving menu so as not to include our fine feathered friends.

It wasn’t so long ago that I considered kiddie movies juvenile and simple. Yet my decade-long adventure into motherhood has changed all that. Jokes are often written solely for the parents, and “Free Birds” is no exception. There are bows to “Braveheart,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” and “Back to the Future.” While no kiddie flick will ever be “Citizen Kane,” not wanting to tear my hair out while some dumb-ass princess twirls around lamenting her lost love is a big bonus. “Free Birds” has humor, adventure, and not a single maiden in distress.

Thanks to the Free Birds people for the great movie poster and hats! Not that I’ve completely forgiven you guys for sending two hats when I have three kids. Hell hath no fury like the child shorted free turkey headwear.

I don’t want to spoil the ending, but there also is a Chuck E. Cheese tie-in to the movie. Besides a theatre, Chuck E. Cheese is the only other place I would also invite extra kids. The hand stamp they press on you as you walk in ensures no escapees. Plus, who doesn’t love a good game of Street Hoops? I am the reigning champion of Street Hoops, by the way. You can add that to my gravestone. And if you visit Chuck E. Cheese this month, you’ll find a host of “Free Bird” goodies available there as well.

So if you’re looking to get into the Thanksgiving spirit this weekend, wrestle up some kids and enjoy “Free Birds.” You’ll totally be off the hook for taking them to any overcrowded and sensory-depleting holiday parade. Talk about the increased likelihood of losing children. There are NO HAND STAMPS at parades.

As a matter of full disclosure, I once worked for Chuck E. Cheese where I regularly knocked over pitchers of pop with my humongous Helen-the-Hen costumed boobs. It was ugly. There are probably some folks out there still emotionally scarred. Sorry about that.

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