You wouldn't like them when they're angry
The Angry Birds Movie is directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly and stars the voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Sean Penn, Keegan-Michael Key, Bill Hader, and Peter Dinklage. The film is based on the app game of the same name.
We truly live in a fascinating point in history, where anything that remotely engages the eyes or ears and gains enough popularity is looked upon by some standby movie executive who says, "You know what? I can make a movie out of this." It begs the question: are movies really that powerful of a visual medium that anything and everything that is thrown at the wall and sticks must be given a cinematic treatment? I can't decide if this is meant to enhance the cinema or drive it down further into the dirt. Actually, I take that back. I know exactly what this means. It simply means that those dunderheads sitting in the fancy Hollywood chairs have exhausted their brains so much to the point where fresh and original ideas are practically extinct, and now they are willing to use anything and everything to keep asses in the theater seats and somehow keep the box office dough flowing.
The ever-growing, trashy stock room that is Movie Ideas of the 2000s includes a massive pile of video games. Hollywood keeps insisting on giving us video-game based movies, and, every time so far, they have struck out. To this day, I believe there is still yet to be a "good video game movie", that is, one that was both a critical and commercial success. So with the video game movie history book being more miserable than a German history book between 1914 and 1945, you can easily guess that hearing the phrase, "based on the best-selling video game...." is shortly followed by a choir of groans and the synchronized gag reflexes of cinephiles everywhere. 2016 was quite a popular year for video game movies, and The Angry Birds Movie just happened to be one of them.
The "plot" of the film is pretty much the general Angry Birds premise stretched out to 90 minutes. But given that the premise boils down to, "Green pigs have stolen bird eggs. Angry birds fire themselves on slingshots to get the eggs back" you will quickly realize how thinly stretched out that the story is. So screenwriter Jon Vitti decided that the movie needed to be more than just an endless marathon of birds killing pigs, and he presents a script that acts like a prequel to the app's gameplay. On an island of flightless, happy-go-lucky birds is Red (Jason Sudeikis), an obvious representation of the app's central red bird icon. Red is a cynical and angry-tempered bird who gets caught up in a mishap involving the delivery of a birthday cake and the premature hatching of an egg. The island's bird judge, Judge Peckinpah (Keegan Michael-Key), sentences Red to anger management class. Red's anger management classmates are the speedy charger bird, Chuck (Josh Gad), the explosive Bomb (Danny McBride), and the silent but scary Terence (Sean Penn).
Red avoids making an effort in class, and he refuses to get to know his fellow classmates. One day, a boat docks on the island and out comes Leonard (Bill Hader), a green pig who claims to have arrived in peace. Other green pigs are revealed to be on the boat, and they slowly begin to integrate their way into the bird's society, as the birds believe that the pigs are indeed friendly explorers. Red is suspicious of the pig's motives, and his suspicion turns out to be right when the pigs steal all of the eggs one night. The birds then turn to Red to lead them in an effort to unleash their anger and rescue the eggs.
You pretty much know the entire plot from the get-go, which is why The Angry Birds Movie struggles to find any merit from a storytelling standpoint. Red is the only bird that shows any form of anger until near the hour mark when the eggs get stolen. The first half hour of the film is little more than the film telling us why Red is angry and how his anger makes him an outcast on the island. That's not a good sign when it takes almost a half hour into a 90 minute flick for the plot to fully set in.
- One nice thing that you can definitely say about The Angry Birds Movie is that the animation is top-notch. Birds and their feathers are incredibly detailed and textured in a state-of-the-art fashion, though there aren't too many close-ups of the birds for us to really marvel at how expertly outlined that they look.
- The humor in The Angry Birds Movie doesn't add up to the excellent animation at all. Most of the jokes are surface-level and fall flat with barely an ounce of cleverness. I was quite surprised to see how many sexual references that there were throughout the film. We get several moments of characters flashing their buttocks (no fart jokes, thankfully), and even a scene where a pig gets two plungers attached to his chest, with the pig proceeding to do a stripper dance in which he flashes the plungers like a bra. The worst moment is right after the eggs get stolen, where the birds all meet to discuss what to do next. Chuck suggests that they make more eggs and suggests that all of the lady birds should "get busy" tonight. The movie must think that children are very simple-minded, because "get busy" is one of the least difficult euphemisms to decipher for "having sex."
So the humor doesn't fly, but when you consider everything else, The Angry Birds Movie is acceptable kids fare that parents shouldn't hate entirely. It's not great, but there are worse animated movies out there as well as much worse video game adaptations. Since the movie was large enough of a draw, there is a sequel planned for 2019. Not sure how that's going to be since this one came out well after the Angry Birds fad had come and gone.
Recommend? If you liked playing the app enough, I'd say it's worth a look.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: