The Angry Birds Movie Review

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The Angry Birds Movie reviewRating:

5.5 out of 10

Cast:

Jason Sudeikis as Red
Danny McBride as Bomb
Josh Gad as Chuck
Bill Hader as Leonard
Peter Dinklage as Mighty Eagle
Kate McKinnon as Stella
Keegan-Michael Key as Judge Peckinpah
Tituss Burgess as Photog
Sean Penn as Terence
Maya Rudolph as Matilda
Ike Barinholtz as Edward
Tony Hale as Ross
Jillian Bell as Bobby’s Mom
Hannibal Buress as Foreman Pig
Danielle Brooks as Crossing Guard Bird
Max Charles as Bobby
Blake Shelton as Earl
Jade Pettyjohn as Hatchling
Billy Eichner as Chef Pig / Phillip

Directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly

The Angry Birds Movie Review:

Cool animation and fun performances by Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader are not quite enough to offset strange choices on the story, music, and voice performances by the creators of The Angry Birds Movie.

Story:

This film is based on the Rovio video game started in 2009.

On a small island, a group of flightless birds live in peace and harmony. Well, except for Red. He has a short temper, is perpetually sarcastic, and is an outcast from society. After one particularly nasty outburst, he’s sent to an anger management class where he meets Bomb, Chuck, and Terence.  Together they try to reign in their anger, but Red is never quite successful.

One day a strange ship arrives on the island. Emerging from it is a pig named Leonard and his fellow piggies. They initially seem friendly and are accepted by the birds, but Red doesn’t trust them. However, since the other birds don’t trust him either, they ignore Red’s concerns. Soon enough Red’s fears are realized when the pigs use a bunch of mechanical contraptions to steal all of the birds’ eggs. They then return home to cook the eggs and eat them.

Anguished at the loss of the eggs, the other birds turn to Red to lead them. And in a turn of events, they must rely on Red’s righteous anger to save the day.

The Angry Birds Movie. is rated PG for rude humor and action.

What Worked:

As a long time Angry Birds player, I was interested in seeing what they could do with The Angry Birds Movie.. I’ve played Angry Birds Star Wars, Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Rio, Bad Piggies, Angry Birds Go, etc etc etc. I’ve spent many hours trying to get three stars on all of the levels. So as I watched the movie, I enjoyed seeing references to the multitude of games they have offered. All of the unique birds are there. You see pigs in strange cars and airplanes. The Mighty Eagle is even a major character voiced by Peter Dinklage. So if you’re also a fan of the game, there’s a lot to enjoy.  But even if you’ve never played the game before, it’s not difficult to follow. You might question why there are slingshots and trampolines and other completely random things, but you won’t be terribly lost.

While the voice cast is full of great talent, there are a couple of standouts. Bill Hader is excellent as the pig Leonard. He’s appropriately evil, quite snarky, and he throws out all sorts of great one liners. Jason Sudeikis as Red is also quite comfortable in the animated world. He, too, throws out the insults and one liners as an angry bird should. It makes him a tough character to warm up to, but he is amusing. Danny McBride is fun as Bomb but he’s quite restrained compared to his usual performances. Josh Gad is also good as Chuck, but his performance feels very, very similar to the one he did as Olaf in Frozen. Peter Dinklage has had great animated performances in the past and he continues that again as Mighty Eagle. 

The animation is top notch. You see every feather on the birds and the attention to detail is evident on the big screen. The animators added all sorts of Easter Eggs in the background. From pig puns to bird puns, keep your eye on the background to see all sorts of little treats. This film also looks great in 3D as the birds fly in and out of the screen.

What Didn’t Work:

While The Angry Birds Movie has a lot of great talent associated with it, I have to admit that it falls short of its potential. I honestly can’t remember laughing once in this film. Yeah, Sudeikis managed to generate a few smirks, but no genuine laughs. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying on the creators’ part. In fact, they tried a little too hard a few times. They threw a number of laughs intended for adults, but I felt it went just a tad too far. In one scene Red looks at a statue that can only be interpreted as depicting a bird orgy. In other scenes they say, “Get the flock outta here” or variations thereof which it doesn’t take much imagination to interpret. There were other moments that felt just a tad too adult for a film aimed at children.

The creators made a bunch of other bizarre choices. If you played the game, then you probably have had the theme music stuck in your head at one point or another. Yet the theme is only heard once in the movie, and it’s an orchestral version only heard in the opening credits. How do you make an Angry Birds movie without the Angry Birds theme? To make matters worse, they feature country music in a dance number with the pigs. It’s a pop country song that doesn’t fit at all in the film. They do have a couple of other songs in the movie like “Rock You Like A Hurricane” by the Scorpions, “Behind Blue Eyes” by Limp Bizkit, and “On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons. But why not “Fly Like An Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band for the Mighty Eagle? Or “T.N.T.” by AC/DC for the Piggies? I think there were some more appropriate musical options out there that they could have gone for.

Speaking of weird choices, it’s a tad hard to tell what metaphors were being delivered with this script. For example, the pigs arrive at the bird’s island and take over in a way that feels kind of like commentary on the Islamic immigrants in Europe. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that the lead pig has a slightly Islamic beard. Or you could interpret the pigs as U.S. invaders bringing cowboys, country music, and pop culture. More likely neither was the intention of the writers, but it’s hard to tell what they were trying to do with this.

Other parts of the story are muddled as well. The story has a subplot where Red seems to want love and a family, then it’s dropped entirely by the end. And is Red supposed to be angry? Or calm? Or both? It’s kind of hard to figure out what message this movie is broadcasting to kids. It’s a muddled mess, but I think it was also a salvageable one. A few tweaks here and there could have improved this story considerably.

As awesome as this cast is, they’re completely underutilized in The Angry Birds Movie. Billy Eichner, who is the living embodiment of anger, is relegated to a pig role and you can’t even tell it’s him in the movie. Sean Penn plays Terence who literally only grunts. You wouldn’t have a clue it was Sean Penn if the credits didn’t tell you. Meanwhile Blake Shelton has an inexplicable cameo as a country music-singing pig. His appearance feels more like an attempt to sell a country music single. Other cast members are unusually restrained such as Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, and Kate McKinnon. You know they’re capable of more than what they do in this film.

I took my kids to this movie and my young son who plays the Angry Birds game, has Angry Birds blankets, and owns Angry Birds toys looked completely bored. As the credits rolled, he said, “Can we go now?” I replied, “Don’t you want to see if there’s a credits scene?” He answered, “I don’t really care.” Honestly, I think that expressed our overall reception to this film. Just, “eh.”

The Bottom Line:

While The Angry Birds Movie is a disappointment compared to a lot of other animated films, it’s not entirely bad. This would make a decent rental.  And if I really had to entertain a bunch of kids under 10, I could do worse than this.  It’s not a ringing endorsement, but there’s enough to like in this movie to make it worth checking out at some point.