Who here hasn't played the Angry Birds video game at least once in their lives? In its prime, the Angry Birds franchise was taking the entire world by storm, spawning numerous spin-off games and a merchandising empire that most mobile game companies could only dream of. But when the flair for the franchise began to spiral away, and the merchandise was no longer flying off the shelves, it was only a matter of time before developer Rovio Entertainment would look elsewhere to try and reinvigorate interest in the Angry Birds.
Yet, who would have ever guessed that specific area would be a feature length animated film? It's inarguable that younger audiences will likely swipe at anything Angry Birds-related coming their way for the next few months, but even with that in mind, the end result of The Angry Birds Movie is nothing more than a mixed bag of harmless kid's fluff.
The Angry Birds Movie stars Jason Sudeikis as the series' iconic bird Red. While just about everyone is happy and carefree with their lives on the isolated island, Red keeps finding himself at the butt of everyone's inconsideration and lack of care, causing him to go into self-exile away from the bird village. However, after being assigned to anger management classes to "help pluck away" his irritability, he comes across three other birds with agitation problems, Bomb (Danny McBride,) Chuck (Josh Gad,) and Terence (Sean Penn.) Yet, everyone's lives are about to flipped upside down when a group of pigs, lead by Leonard (Bill Hader,) arrive aboard a ship onto their little island, claiming they want nothing more than to be friends. Red, of course, is suspicious from the get go, and plots to find out what the pigs are really up to.
As far as animated movies go, The Angry Birds Movie doesn't hold a stick to the likes of Disney/Pixar or Aardman Animations, but that doesn't mean it isn't without its positives. The animation of the birds themselves is done very nicely, as if you could reach out towards the screen and pluck a single feather off the birds' bodies. In turn, the animation also leads to a good amount of jokes that hit their mark well enough.
Despite the first half of the movie feeling rather directionless, some of the movie's best gags stem from the zany antics of the three main leads. On that note, the casting choices fit their parts really well. Jason Sudeikis added a good amount of cynicism to the role of Red, Josh Gad's hyper personality fit well with the role of Chuck, even Danny McBride's performance as Bomb was done nicely. But of all the characters, the one I enjoyed most was Sean Penn as Terence. It feels criminal that the character of Terence wasn't given more screen time, since he commands the most laughs every time he appears in the movie. His introduction into the anger management classes was one of the most memorable parts of the film for me personally.
Where the film shines brightest is the last third, when the pigs finally steal the island's eggs and plan on eating them. Having rejected Red's pleas that the pigs were up to something, the inhabitants finally realize the error of their ways and turn to Red for guidance. This is when he gets the idea to slingshot themselves at the pigs' castle to retrieve their eggs, and it leads to a lot of fun action pieces and comedic moments that help make up for the rest of the film's lack of proper direction.
A lot of the kids in my theater were hamming it up at the tail end of the feature, so if for no other reason, they'll enjoy themselves just to finally see the birds flinging themselves at some pigs.
Tragically, as mentioned before, The Angry Birds Movie ultimately feels like nothing more than an uninspired children's flick for the least demanding audiences. While Pixar has crafted numerous films that can appeal to both kids and adults alike, The Angry Birds Movie forces in some of the weakest adult humor I've seen in a long time. There's one scene where Chuck offers a solution to the stolen eggs by telling the female birds they should "start getting busy making more eggs." Intelligent adult jokes are more than welcome in animated features in my book, but almost every time The Angry Birds Movie attempts to tell a joke geared towards older audience members, it's so in-your-face and tasteless that it comes off as nothing other than cringeworthy.
What's worst of all, however, is how little of a character this film tries to have for itself. Sure, it has its message of "anger can be good when used to progress yourself", but all the elements used to craft this motion picture can be picked out from just about any other movie from years ago. Why bother with a great idea, like having some of the original orchestral music based off the original Angry Birds' tunes thrown into the movie, when you can painfully force in Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" or Limp Bizkit's cover of "Behind Blue Eyes"?
Why try to craft a flowing narrative from beginning to end, when we can just force all the action pieces towards the very end? Or better yet, why bother having some more intelligent humor thrown into the mix, when the film has plenty of butt and urine jokes to entertain only the little kids?
If there's any real appeal for an adult to go see The Angry Birds Movie, it's to unlock the Piggy Island levels in the new Angry Birds Action! game (find out how to do so by reading our article here.) Other than that, this film feels ultimately harmless, but also unmemorable. When the appeal for the Angry Birds video games has disappeared and the kids look back on this movie, they'll likely forget why they ever liked it. Sure, they may laugh themselves into a coma when they're five years old, but any adult would be hard pressed to find something truly memorable in this movie.
In fact, I could see this as a movie that would age terribly, since it relies so heavily on its audience members to have played the games. Once those games are gone, anyone who stumbles across this movie in the future might be left scratching their heads as to why it needed to exist in the first place. But I'm sure your kids will have a good time seeing this picture. Don't go see it with them, however. Drop them off at a screening of The Angry Birds Movie, while you go see The Nice Guys instead.
Ultimately, this animated feature has its moments of fun and comedic value, but it also doesn't try to do much of anything inventive or and doesn't have enough narrative heft enough to warrant seeing it in theaters. If you desperately need to go see this feature as an adult, I'd recommend waiting for it on Netflix. Because despite having a slingshot at its disposal, The Angry Birds Movie can never quite manage to get itself off the ground.