It was only natural that, given the immense popularity of Angry Birds, there would be The Angry Birds Movie. I personally expected the film five years ago at the height of Angry Birds’ popularity, but it’s here now nonetheless. Let’s follow in the adventures of Red and the birds to cause mayhem and devastation to vast quantities of piggies.
If you’ve played the game, there should be nothing new to the plot of the film, since they’ve left it at exactly what the game states. The Angry Birds Movie takes place on Bird Island, a paradise where a community of flightless birds live and exist in peace. Mostly. The main character, Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), is forced to take anger management classes after one too many altercations with the Island’s residents. In the class, he meets Bomb (the famous black exploding bird voiced by Danny McBride), Chuck (the speedy yellow bird, voiced by Josh Gad), Terrance (the massive red bird, voiced growled by Sean Penn), and the hippie, former angry bird, anger management instructor, Matilda (hilariously voiced by Maya Rudolph). When a boat arrives bearing two piggies, Leonard and Roy (voiced by Bill Hader), Red smells trouble. When the boat is shown to harbour dozens of piggies, things go from bad to worse, and naturally, a bunch of eggs get stolen along the way and taken to Pig Island. The birds get angry and give chase, using a giant slingshot to fling themselves hither and thither. None of this should be any surprise to you. But here’s a spoiler tag in case you’ve lived in the centre of the Amazon jungle for the past 10 years.
It’s highly likely that you’ve played Angry Birds oodles of time while sitting on the toilet, so it may end up being of some comfort that the humour is precisely the same for much of the movie. That being said, there are a number of clever visual gags (such as a radio with the word “Ham” written on it) that the perceptive will pick up. Much of the humour, though, falls flat, like the running gag of the mime who keeps saying “Oh My Goooood!”. To be fair, the source material is not expansive to start with, so I have to hand it to the screenwriters for making the world of Angry Birds as vibrant as they did. The voice casting felt fairly spot-on to me. Jason Sudeikis is a perfect fit for the extremely sarcastic, angry little critter, while Josh and Danny McBride perfectly suit as Red’s sidekicks. Peter Dinklage makes for a brilliant and even funny performance as Mighty Eagle. I can’t comment too much on Sean Penn’s performance, because Terrance only ever voiced grunts.
Humour aside, one of the bigger issues with the film is the pacing. The first hour is spent setting up the characters and plot, and showing us just how angry Red is, how he’s an outcast from the bird society, and how he’s fine with that status quo. The piggie invasion is shown as a friendly incursion as a pretext for the egg theft, but the best part of the film is the last half hour, where the birds are flinging themselves at the shoddily-built piggy city. It’s what we came to see, after all, and in this section of the film, it excels. All-out war between birds and pigs with mayhem and destruction! It was interesting to see how they introduced the lesser-used birds from the game. Speaking of the piggies, they’ve been characterised as a weird, green composite of Minions and Rabbids. Something about the way they so idiotically caper about while cackling just screams “Minions” to me. What’s interesting is that within the piggy city, they incorporated the ideas behind the game Bad Piggies, so they’re shown as technologically advanced with a bizarre penchant for explosives. In terms of the film’s score, many of the musical pieces will be highly familiar to fans of the game: there are plenty of renditions of the Angry Birds and the Bad Piggies themes.
The Angry Birds Movie is no Pixar flick. There’s nothing deep here and we’re not exactly looking at high-brow comedy. If I had to guess, I’d say that the target audience is teenagers, but I reckon that the majority of the people who’ll end up watching The Angry Birds Movie will be younger kids. It’s a decent 98 minutes of mindless distraction, pee jokes and all.