Adding to the cinematic animated clutter based on once popular games, “The Angry Birds Movie” is one that I was dreading to watch. Was anybody really clamoring for a movie based on this game? Apparently so, according to the film’s $40 million opening weekend.
I’ve never played the game on which this film is based so I’m not sure if avid fans of the app would find more to like, but I can tell you that as a casual observer, this isn’t a very good film. The animation and the voice talent isn’t the problem: it’s the paper thin story that ultimately leads to the movie’s failure.
The film is set on bird island, a beautiful sanctuary in the middle of a crystal clear ocean. Red (Jason Sudeikis) is a lonely bird with some serious anger management issues. When his temper lands him in a relaxation class with fellow angries Chuck (Josh Gad) and Bomb (Danny McBride), the outsiders form an offbeat friendship. When a couple of mysterious pirate ships arrive with green pigs at the helm (pigs who want to steal and eat all of the baby bird eggs), our feathered heroes have to swoop in and save the day from the evil piggies. And that, my friends, is the entire plot.
Most of the second half of the film is stuffed with situations and scenes taken from the popular game. I didn’t know for sure at first, but quickly figured it out because everything in the final action sequences felt out of place and tacked on. There are obvious inclusions that make zero sense to the story (slingshots, bombs, flying birds, etc.). It’s a shame because the characters are, dare I say it, likeable and actually a little bit lovable! Evil head pig Leonard (Bill Hader), Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), Judge Peckinpah (Keegan-Michael Key) and Matilda (Maya Rudolph) are pretty good characters. Of course most of this success lies with the actors who lend their voices to bring these birds to life. They are undoubtedly talented and they give it their all, but so much more could’ve been done with the story. They, and these characters, deserved more.
There’s a lot of modern-day sass talking and groan-inducing bird related puns (“what the flock?” / “pluck my life“) for the adults, and most attempts at humor fall flatter than a pancake. A majority of the film’s first 30 minutes feels like nothing more than an advertisement for the soundtrack (there are several weird musical interludes that are “written” into the story, making the songs the centerpiece of the action) while the last part of the film is nothing more than an ad for the game. There just isn’t much going on to keep anyone engaged.
It’s not all awful: the biggest surprise here is the skillful animation! You’d expect a kid’s movie like this to be slapped together with the usual Hollywood half-assery in the visual department but it’s not: the animation is vibrant, polished and beautifully textured. Say what you will about the film but it’s really, really gorgeous to look at. What a shame that it’s wasted on such drivel.
I’m awarding it two stars solely for the skillful animation and the proficient voice talent. Bottom line: this movie makes no damn sense but it sure is pretty.
Okay, so I understand that you are contractually obligated (it’s part of the parent-child contract) to take your kids to see “The Angry Birds Movie.” So the question you should be asking me is not whether it’s any good, but whether alcohol or other substances will significantly improve your viewing experience.
Sadly, the answer is a resounding “no.” This movie sucks. It’s yet another example of a kid movie that is made with very little consideration given to the parents that are being dragged to see it. Yes, in the tradition of every such movie made since “Shrek,” there are a couple of throwaway “adult” jokes, but they are relatively few and far between — and they aren’t funny.
Okay, you might say, but I love playing Angry Birds. Is it possible I might enjoy it, as an aficionado of the game?
Again, the answer is “no.” Yes, the theme song is used from time-to-time. Yes, many of the birds you love are in the movie, exhibiting the characteristics that make the game so fun. Yes, the Bad Piggies are here, and there is even an extended scene of the birds destroying the Piggies’ structures (just like in the game!!!). But that doesn’t make the film any good.
“The Angry Birds Movie” starts out kinda okay, with some decent jokes interspersed between the plot exposition… aaaand then, it starts to suck. It gets stupid, and boring. Nothing much happens for about an hour. You get Josh Gad trying (unsuccessfully) to do a voice that isn’t Olaf. There are multiple unfunny sight gags that don’t reward the attentive viewer. The head honchos at Rovio (the company that made the game) get satiated by multiple references to their app, and then it’s over. That’s about it.
Not even a generous helping of wine (Adaptation Petite Sirah 2013 — it’s amazing, you should try it) could make this movie more enjoyable. If you can get away with sending your kids with their friends’ parents so that you don’t have to go, it will be a significant victory for you.