Angry Birds’ Missed Opportunity is Maddening

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Chuck (Josh Gad) inquires if Red (Jason Sudeikis) has any more birdbrain ideas for saving the day in The Angry Birds Movie

The Angry Birds Movie is an animated tale of flightless fowl who find themselves prey to a bunch of green sea-faring pigs seeks to steal their eggs. Based upon the immensely popular mobile game, which has been downloaded over 2 billion times, the story focuses primarily on three heroes-by-accident: Red (Jason Sudeikis), a once-bullied bird known for passive aggressiveness, Chuck (Josh Gad) an overly-social speedster, and Bomb (Danny McBride) who sporadically combusts. When their happy home is duped by the invading swine, the trio hatch a plan to save the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What works in The  Angry Birds Movie is the ability of directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly to sufficiently capture the look-and-feel of the original game and the voice casting. Subtle and not-so-subtle references dot the film’s landscape such as Red asking about a customer’s experience rating: “how many stars would you give me, out of three?” Eagle-eyed viewers will also spot familiar landscapes, character art, and other elements drawn directly from, or clearly inspired by, the gameplay.

The animation is perfectly fine, bolstered by a strong voice cast. Sudeikis in particular draws upon his signature snarky tone to give Red a humorous quality through lines laces dripping with sarcasm and acerbic wit. Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) also puts in amusing performance as a Mighty Eagle—a pompous once-beloved hero (for reasons never quite explained), who holds himself in extremely high regard. He dispels gibberish and calls it wisdom, but does it with such confidence that one can’t help but chuckle.

While The Angry Birds Movie is well cast and offers a welcome sense of familiarity, it falters with the funny. The Angry Birds Movie relies a lot on joke types that simply don’t work: potty humor, obscure references, and repetition. An eagle urinating for a good 90 seconds into a lake that the birds have recently swum in is not comedy, it’s disgusting. At one point two main characters wear disguises clearly mimicking the outfits from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Will anyone get this reference? And finally, while watching Red disproportionally blow his cool once is cute (and theme-appropriate), by 5th time the trope is annoying.AngryBirds3

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Angry Birds Movie also misses a huge opportunity, thematically. Like most animated films, the ostracized character has a cathartic narrative arc that ends with them being recognized and appreciated by the community that once isolated him. But this resolution comes without meaning and growth. Red doesn’t really change, at least all that much, so his motivations are confusing. The Angry Birds Movie could have used this film as a way to explain that it’s okay to be mad once in a while—it’s normal and healthy. Instead, the message comes across as: don’t be trusting, be mad as that’s what will ultimately benefit you.

The Angry Birds Movie will likely satiate younger audience members who solely have the desire to see the game they love adapted into cinematic form. Unfortunately, there’s not much substance behind the execution.

Final Grade: D+