I’m not going to lie here… The Angry Birds Movie isn’t what I would call great cinema… or even cinema that is overly good. As far as plot goes, its paper thin, the characters are one-dimensional, the voice acting is off in a lot of the roles, it’s badly edited, and in some cases, wildly inappropriate for the audience its aiming for.
On the other hand, it’s a movie based on a video game… and it’s fine.
You heard me… it’s fine!
This is actually… an okay movie based on a video game and I haven’t seen the like since Mortal Kombat almost 20 years ago.
The first one, not the sequel.
The sequel was casket-aged butt.
So, The Angry Birds Movie… is about a bunch of flightless birds living on an island. Among them is Red and he has anger issues which is odd because he doesn’t seem angry, really. Sure, he loses his temper a couple of times, but for the most part he just seems surly and mildy annoyed. He’s Jason Sudeikis when the movie and the character needed him to be Louis Black… it just doesn’t work.
Anyway, Red and the other island birds are shocked when a bunch of green pigs come sailing up in a boat and want to make peace with them. Red suspects that they’re up to no good, but no one believes him until the pigs up and steals the entire island’s clutch of eggs. Now, Red must lead his birdie army across the sea to retrieve their children!
This film certainly won’t win any awards, but it is a bright and high-energy comedy that is never boring. Sure, not all of the jokes work but the movie does at least move at a pace where the non-working parts drift to the wayside quite quickly. The characters are fun and all work except for Red. I’ve got nothing against Jason Sudeikis unless you count taking Olivia Wilde off the market, but as the voice of Red who is, in this movie, the Angry Bird… he sounds less angry and more vexed. It just doesn’t work.
The character is badly written too. He’s shown as mean and anti-social, but when he’s alone he’s portrayed as lonely and craving to be close to others. When he’s in proximity to others, he’s purposely a gigantic feathery d-bag and drives people away. Not even the most elementary attempt is made to try and explain the discrepancy… it just seems to hinge on what’s convenient for the movie to happen.
Like most modern family films, The Angry Birds Movie makes jokes for the kids and the adults but, in this case, the jokes for the adults aren’t even partially subtle. They are right there, exposed and naked for all to see. When the eggs disappear, for example, Chuck – the hyperactive yellow bird – excitedly suggests they make more eggs instead of looking for the old ones and it goes on for several more seconds than it should have. It’s a far cry from Shrek‘s musing that Farquad’s castle was because the king was compensating for something… that was a gentle nudge with an elbow. The Angry Birds Movie screams in your ear with a bullhorn, “THIS IS A JOKE FOR THE GROWN-UPS! HE’S TALKING ABOUT SEX!!!”
In fairness… Remember the Mighty Eagle peeing scene from the trailer? It’s in the movie and it’s longer and a lot more graphic. It’s also funnier so… maybe subtly doesn’t work all the time.
Okay, so… The Angry Birds Movie is a cash grab based on a gaming app, but the most surprising thing is how much it doesn’t suck. It’s not great, mind you, for reasons I have already pointed out but it’s also not bad. I would even go as far to say that the movie was actually better than I was expecting, though I have been burned by video game movies my whole life so there’s that.
It’s not deep and not a whole lot of thought went into any aspect of its creation. It’s not breaking new ground nor is it trying to impart any great wisdom beyond its shallow surface message… but its good and the fact that it’s probably the second best or even arguably the best video game movie ever made has got to count for something.