There are few birds in the world I can enjoy, and I’m not just talking about the edible ones. Take the parrot, for example, it is a colorfully majestic bird whose most entertaining characteristic includes its ability to mimic human speech. This trick is novel to a point and is meant to feint a level of intelligence it clearly doesn’t have. The parrot is just a bird, but it may as well be the mascot for The Angry Birds Movie.
Every ounce of The Angry Birds Movie is a mimicry and mockery of something greater that came before it. While diverting and engaging enough, the animation style feels common and regurgitated. We have seen birds similarly done, but with much greater execution in the Rio franchise. First time directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly struggle to find their own unique voices, or even a consistent one. The film coasts and glides when it should soar with energy. This includes the voice acting talent, which were underwhelming for the most part. Jason Sudekis delivered a mostly pacified performance as the “raging” Red, never fully connecting with the character in an emotional way. His approach felt very casual verging on nonchalant. That gave the animated Josh Gad a chance to steal every scene he was in and project his energy into the film’s pulse. The only other actor to bring life to the film through his character was Peter Dinklage as the Mighty Eagle.
Writer Jon Vitti, who also wrote gems like The Simpsons Movie and coal like The Chipmunks films, finds an unhappy middle ground with this film. The story was a basic one, mostly building off the pre-established story from the game, but adding a bit of American Colonialism. Despite the film being in 3D, the characters and their motivations are rarely ever even 2D. It seems most of the energy in the script was spent creating exhaustively used puns like “pluck my life”, “instaham”, “Steve Aoinki”, and “Calvin Swine”. The only bit of intellectual thought to come from this film involves the social commentary on America invading and their overwhelming cultural influence as personified through the pigs and country music.
With the word “angry” in the title, you shouldn’t be surprised at some of the content. This peaceful community of flightless fowls has only a handful of bad eggs that are forced to take anger management classes. Their peaceful trusting nature is translated as naïvety when pigs come and take advantage of them. Aside from blaming the victims, the film also promotes anger, which could be a more useful message for adults who have the self-control to use it when necessary, but not to children who will likely emulate it wantonly.
Films like this are made expressly for young children easily amused by repetitive noise gags and bodily waste jokes. You can stop rolling your eyes at my apprehension for this children’s film being too much for younger children because with animation entries like Zootopia earlier this year, the bar has been raised. With every child watching this film in a theater there is (or hopefully should be) an adult sitting through the film desperately trying to latch onto any crumb of adult humor or innuendo from this puff pastry. It’s unavoidable judging this film from an adult’s perspective because most critics are adults or adult-like beings, and at least half of the audience going to see this film will be adults. From an adult’s point of view, The Angry Birds Movie offers little amusement and much less enjoyment. From the perspective of my inner 10-year-old, and gauging the reactions of all the other kids in my screening, there was little to laugh at beyond a mime that spends most of his screen time making noises.
As a video game franchise, The Angry Birds soared when it came on the scene 7 years ago. Since then, it’s futilely launched bird after bird into the brick walls of oblivion. With much deflated importance and a hollow semblance of brand recognition, The Angry Birds Movie attempts to build on the now shaky foundation of a once popular mobile game. The result is an inconsistent movie with almost unrecognizable characters, a bird-brained story and featherweight voice acting. This bird is a dark herald of things to come, like a Tetris-based film. I don’t know about you, but I think a hunting season is needed.
Rating: ★★★ (3/10 stars)