The Angry Birds Movie Lifts Off!

Angry Birds

Due to pressing circumstances, I was unable to attend the advance screening for The Angry Birds Movie and thus missed seeing it in 3D. After hearing a lot of negative things, I was completely unprepared for watching the 2D DVD release and enjoying it.

And yet, I did.

Although I’ve never played the game, I had watched a niece play it enough to get the idea – and enough to see that the movie gets the basics right.

Between invading pigs and destroying Pig Island, The Angry Birds Movie lays out a basic story: flightless, rotund birds have a nice life until some green pigs charm them long enough to steal all their eggs and a trio of outcast birds with anger management issues have to lead the birds to save their children.

It’s not much, but it’s enough to create a surprisingly detailed world and introduce some fun characters.

The film opens with Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) going through all manner of trials to deliver a kid’s birthday cake on time and (just barely) failing. When he loses his temper and stuffs the cake into the father’s face, he is sentenced to an anger management course run by Matilda (Maya Rudolph) – where he meets bright yellow speedster Chuck (Josh Gad), humongous Terrence (Sean Penn – yes, Sean Penn) and not quite as humongous Bomb (Danny McBride) – the name is self-explanatory (he actually explodes from anger).

When a ship brings Leonard (Bill Hader), the green pig – and his aide – to Bird Island, he charms the island’s populace so that they don’t care that there are a horde of pigs hidden in the ship’s hold and that they kind of take over the island for some very entertaining fun and games. And a country music concert.

Red, whose home the ship damaged, immediately finds them suspicious (‘Didn’t you say there were just two of you?), but no one heeds his warning and the pigs steal all the birds’ eggs.

After trying to enlist the aid of the legendary Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) – and discovering he’s (a) really let himself go and (b) is a raving narcissist – Red, Chuck, Bomb and Terrance decide to save the eggs themselves. The egocentric eagle does have a wake-up moment that pays off pretty well.

They get the rest of the birds to put together a rickety boat (made from TNT boxes) and take along a giant slingshot (a ‘gift’ from the pigs) and set out.

Like most PG-rated animated movies, The Angry Bird Movie plays on themes like family (biological and chosen); community; teamwork and such. Like Inside Out (though not nearly as well), it makes the case that anger is not always a Bad Thing.

The voice cast is very good – though only Red and, to a lesser extent, Chuck – are really developed much.

In and around the plot and the movie’s themes, there’s a ton of slapstick (think more Three Stooges than Marx Brothers – though Red’s eyebrows do recall Groucho) going on to delight kids and more than a few moments that will keep adults from nodding off (a riff on The Shining is the only one I’ll mention, specifically).

The CG animation is very good; the character design plays with the designs from the game in ways that are cute without being cutesy, and detailed. The towns in the which the birds and pigs live feel organically right for them.

The script is filled with wordplay – some of it very good – and most of the gags land better than the flightless birds (and definitely better than Mighty Eagle!). It’s also the only movie where you’re likely to hear black Sabbath, The Who, Matoma, Tone Loc and The Carpenters on the soundtrack.

At 97 minutes, The Angry Birds Movie doesn’t overstay its welcome, either.

Features: Bonus Scene: Chuck’s Rescue; Symphony Mode; Photo Gallery (Characters, Bird Island, Pig Island); Making Music with Composer Heirto Pereira (Red’s Themes, Pigs’ Theme, Chuck’s Theme, Action Theme, Mission Theme, Red’s Anger Theme); In-theater Policy Trailers.

Note: The Blu-ray also includes: Deleted Scenes; Dance Along Birds and Pigs (learn the line dance from the movie); Crafty birds (How to build your own Piggy Tower); Meet the Hatchlings; 4 Hatchlings Shorts.

Grade: The Angry Birds Theme – B

Grade: Features – B

Final Grade: B