Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Movie Review: The Angry Birds Movie

The Angry Birds Movie
Directed by: Clay Kaytis & Fergal Reilly   
Written by: Jon Vitti.
Starring: Jason Sudeikis (Red), Josh Gad  (Chuck), Danny McBride (Bomb), Maya Rudolph (Matilda), Bill Hader (Leonard), Peter Dinklage (Mighty Eagle), Sean Penn (Terence), Keegan-Michael Key (Judge Peckinpah), Kate McKinnon (Stella / Eva the Birthday Mom), Tony Hale Ross / Cyrus / Mime), Hannibal Buress (Edward the Birthday Dad), Ike Barinholtz (Tiny), Tituss Burgess (Photog), Ian Hecox (Bubbles), Anthony Padilla (Hal), Jillian Bell (Helene the Lunch Mom / Yoga Instructor), Billy Eichner (Chef Pig / Phillip), Danielle Brooks (Olive Blue / Monica the Crossing Guard), Blake Shelton (Earl Pig), Charli XCX (Willow).
I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’ve wasted more than a few hours of my life playing various versions of Angry Birds on my various iPhones over the years – from the original to Star Wars to a Rio inspired one, etc. The game is simple – a huge slingshot allows you to fire birds, all of which have different abilities, at various structures and buildings – all of which are rather unsteady if birds can break them – and are inhabited by green pigs, who it is your mission to kill. Why birds and pigs are mortal enemies, I do not know, and when playing the game, I don’t much care. The game is fun, and so I play it. There really is no reason why anyone should want to take this game and turn it into a big budget, animated movie for kids – beside money of course – but there also isn’t any real reason why doing so had to result in a bad movie. After all, the idea of a Lego movie sounded stupid at first – and it turned out to be one of the original and entertaining animated films in years.
Unfortunately, The Angry Birds Movie is not the second coming of the Lego Movie. It’s more like, well, pretty much any movie based on a video game you can think of (now that I think about it, it’s actually one of the best movies ever to be based on a video game – but considering the list of good movies based on video games is essentially one film long – Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – that’s not much of an accomplishment). It is an animated film aimed at kids that also tries very hard to be entertaining for the parents as well – the movie, like the Shrek films, peppers lots of adult jokes alongside all the kiddie stuff. The mix never really works, although admittedly, there are a few clever sight gags throughout (which I won’t spoil – if you’re stuck seeing this with your kids, you may as enjoy the surprise of those).
The story involves Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) – who has never really fit in with his bird brethren on Bird Island. Everyone else is seemingly happy all the time, and Red isn’t. After an incident at a child’s birthday party, a judge sentences him to Anger Management classes – where he meets Chuck (Josh Gag) – a speedy yellow bird- and Bomb, a, uh, bomb (Danny McBride) – who will become his sidekicks of a sort, and Matilda (Maya Rudolph), their overly cheerful teacher, who lets her suppressed rage slip out occasionally. Things go from bad to worse when a couple of pigs – led by Leonard (Bill Hader) arrive in ships, apparently arriving as friends. But as more and more pigs reveal themselves, Red grows more and more suspicious – although he’s the only one. He is, of course, right – and eventually the birds will have to attack the pigs on their turf using, you guessed it, a giant slingshot.
I’m not going to try and say that Angry Birds is a horrible movie. It really isn’t – and it moves quickly enough that you’re probably not going to be bored by it. The animation is at least reasonably well done, and if the message is tried and true, it’s also effective. Your kids will probably love it – my almost five year old did (mind you, last summer, she said that Minions was better than Inside Out, so I have some serious doubts about your critical acumen).
But the movie really isn’t very good – it’s merely “good enough”. Good enough to entertain kids who are not very demanding of their entertainment, and good enough for the parents that it won’t be overly painful to sit through it. Nothing here is headache inducing, and at least the film isn’t one of those sickly sweet animated film either. The film is an exercise in brand extension, and little else. Then again, that’s all it was trying to be.

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