UK Release Date: 13th May 2016
Runtime: 97 minutes
Director: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly
Writer: Jon Vitti
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Sean Penn, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage
Synopsis: A rage-filled outcast in bird society is the only one to raise an objection when a group of apparently friendly pigs arrive on their secluded island bearing plentiful gifts.
It’s fair to say that movies adapted from video games have a somewhat disappointing history. Films adapted from smartphone games, on the other hand, don’t have much of a history at all. That was true, at least, until The Angry Birds Movie arrived, leaping from the smallest of screens to the biggest. The question was whether Angry Birds, entertaining enough to amuse for the length of a bus journey, could sustain intrigue over the course of a narrative feature film. Unfortunately, that’s not question that the film is able to answer in the affirmative, but that’s not to say that this is a complete feathered flop.
Red (Jason Sudeikis) is a grumpy recluse on Bird Island. He is forced to attend anger management classes run by Matilda (Maya Rudolph), alongside hyper-active Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride) and the enormous but silent Terence (Sean Penn). The fragile equilibrium of their society is shattered by the arrival of Leonard (Bill Hader) and his pig friends, who arrive with open arms and gifts for the birds. Red is suspicious of the pigs’ intentions and seeks out the Mighty Hawk (Peter Dinklage) to help get to the bottom of the situation.
The Angry Birds Movie faces an uphill struggle from its opening moments in that it is left with the task of justifying its very existence. No one was crying out for a movie based on a smartphone app and very few became all that excited when one was finally announced. Angry Birds had a lot of work to do and it didn’t manage to pull it off. The film is a rather generic animated outing with a simplistic plot that exists solely to set up a third act that apes the familiar setup of the gameplay in distinctly unimaginative fashion.
Jason Sudeikis is a solid, but unremarkable, presence as Red who is… wait for it… an angry bird. He is joined by characters that broadly reflect the gimmicks of the various birds in the game. Josh Gad’s Chuck runs around with the trademark infuriating irritant persona he has conjured up in increasingly grating fashion since he broke out in Frozen. The usually unique Danny McBride simply fades into the background and Bill Hader doesn’t get to do as much sneering villainy ad you’d hope for.
The rest of the voice cast are merely phoning in their work, with one notable exception. Peter Dinklage, whose Game of Thrones work has made it clear that he is one of the best actors working today, is outstanding as the Mighty Hawk. Whether he’s singing a song about his own might or nonchalantly discussing his greatness, Dinklage brings real gravitas to the film.
The Angry Birds Movie has a couple of nice jokes and the animation is very nicely done, but it simply isn’t funny enough to justify being made. There is too much reliance on basic toilet humour, including a joke about pissing that feels as if it goes on for hours, and none of the characters have any personality to them that could possibly create comedy. It also has a rather unpleasant worldview, in stark contrast to the tolerance of a movie like Zootropolis. This is a film that advocates distrust of anyone different to yourself on the basis that they’re almost certainly planning to destroy your homeland and eat your children.
If Donald Trump made movies, this would be his magnum opus.
Pop or Poop?
Neither as bad as it could have been or as good as it needed to be, The Angry Birds Movie is a real disappointment of a film that seems to have arrived a few years too late to capitalise on the popularity of the app on which it is based. Handsome animation isn’t enough to overcome bafflingly bland voice performances and a weak, unimaginative script packing very few memorable comedic moments.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.