'The Angry Birds Movie'
When ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ was announced, the world reacted with a resounding “WHY?!!” I was one of them. It made no sense to me. Now that I’ve seen the film, the question remains unanswered.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the easy one-word answer is “profit” and that’s likely 110% accurate. However, beyond that it’s just impossible to see how literally hundreds of talented adults could have dedicated so much time and effort to a project like ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ with any sense of passion or purpose. This is paint-by-numbers storytelling in a way that’s insulting to paint-by-numbers preschool books. It’s so lazily and cynically produced that it doesn’t even deserve the appreciation of viewers who can be easily impressed by bright colors flashing across a screen. It’s embarrassing that this thing exists and frequently humiliating to watch it. Worst of all, ‘Angry Birds’ isn’t even really that popular anymore, so it’s tough to say who this movie is even for. Hopefully no one.
So… the plot. Yes, the folks behind this thing had to actually come up with a plot for ‘Angry Birds’ and god bless them for trying. Basically, the story takes place on a magical island filled with flightless birds who live in harmony. That is, except for Red (Jason Sudeikis). He has anger issues. That’s right, the writers went with the most literal possible approach. The bird is angry, no need to think about it more than that.
After Red goes through a montage of getting angry at stuff and irritating people, he’s forced to take anger management classes. (Sure, why not?) There, he meets a speedy bird named Chuck (Josh Gad) and an explosive bird named Bomb (Danny McBride). Initially, Red hates them because he hates everything due to being angry. However, those gosh darn birds keep following him around. Maybe they’ll become friends? Who knows?!
Because a big CGI comedy needs conflict and a reason to fling birds around like the namesake game, a gang of green pirate pigs led by Leonard (Bill Hader) show up on the island. They claim to be friendly and just want to offer parties and chuckles and so forth. Everyone believes the pigs except for Red since they smashed his home when coming to town. He knows something’s up, but because he’s angry all the time anyway his concerns are dismissed. Now, I hate to get into spoiler territory, but the pigs who were the villains in the game turn out to be evil. (Shocker, I know. Sorry for ruining that for you.) Those greedy pigs want to steal all the eggs in the village for a big feast. Maybe they do it. I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to wreck the movie for you. But maybe they succeed. And maybe, just maybe, Red’s community will rally to save the day with a plan involving a giant bird-launching slingshot. Again, who knows? But maybe.
So yeah, it takes at least an hour to finally get to the sight of birds being fired at pigs and destroying rickety structures. At that point, the movie at least feels like the game. Whether or not that’s relevant, exciting or even a worthy destination for this big, dumb, CGI waste of space to reach almost doesn’t matter. Co-directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly (poached from Disney and the visual effects industry respectively) get to shoot a massive ‘Angry Birds’ game in 3D that’s all pretty and expensive and stuff. Perhaps for those willing to plunk down money for an ‘Angry Birds’ movie, that’ll be worth the price of admission. I have no clue. All I could think about when watching it was all the things I could have done that would have been a better use of my time (like… say… anything).
Beyond that possible selling point, the movie serves up everything that audiences have come to expect from a lazy animated feature. It has wall-to-wall celebrity voices delivering stale jokes, countless pop culture references, a bunch of a tedious slapstick, and perhaps even a fart joke or two. It’s more like watching a checklist of genre requirements than a story and even less inspiring than that sounds.
To be fair, I suppose it’s possible that ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ could have been worse than this. The animation is up to the eye-popping beauty of blockbuster standards and the cast is loaded with comedic talent desperately trying to make their one-note characters and decades-old jokes work. That’s more than can be said about ‘Norm of the North‘, for example. At least this wasn’t the worst animated movie of the year, even though it should have been. Faint praise? You bet, the faintest possible, but the movie deserves that much credit. Money was spent and a few people tried. If participation or effort trophies were handed out at the Oscars, this thing might be in line for a nomination. However, as a work of art or entertainment, it’s as bankrupt and boring as any rational person might expect ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ to be.