Film Review: The Angry Birds Movie

An oppressive onslaught of noises and colors, occasionally punctuated by a joke.
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Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the past decade, you already know the smartphone time-waster by Rovio Entertainment where you slingshot various birds at constructs built by pigs. Maybe that doesn’t sound like enough of an idea to base an entire movie around, but that hasn’t hindered Rovio teaming with Sony Pictures Animation to try just that with their latest feature. (Note: Apparently, Sony’s also developing an “Emoji Movie.”)

As we’re introduced to an island where happy, flightless birds frolic and try to raise their families, we also meet grumpy Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), who lives alone in his house on the beach, his severe anger issues eventually getting him thrown into group therapy with a bunch of other wacky bird characters. Led by the ever-ebullient Matilda (Maya Rudolph), there’s super-speedy Chuck (Josh Gad), the appropriately named Bomb (Danny McBride), and the intimidating Terence (Sean Penn), who only has to growl at anyone to put fear into them.

One day, a boat arrives on the island’s shores, destroying Red’s house in the process. Out comes Leonard (Bill Hader), a pig from the faraway Piggie Island, declaring his species’ intentions to be friends with the birds. As the pigs infiltrate the birds’ community, Red discovers they’re actually hatching a plot to steal and eat all their eggs. The revelation prompts Red, Chuck and Bomb to go off searching for the legendary and elusive Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), whom Red believes is their only hope for survival.

There is little about The Angry Birds Movie that is worth overthinking or overanalyzing, because it’s not meant for anyone who needs their entertainment to have any sort of long-lasting or thought-provoking effect. (In fact, if you’re a film critic forced to wake up early to sit in a theatre full of families with small kids, it isn’t hard at all to relate to Red’s constantly angry demeanor.)

Like the best (and worst) comedies, the filmmakers try to fill every single second with some sort of pun, sight gag, pratfall or bit of bathroom humor. At its best, the film manages to achieve the oddball quality of a “Ren and Stimpy” cartoon. At its worst, it’s just trying too darn hard.

Some of the frequently repeated jokes do eventually pay off, but the worst of them—that mime who constantly says “Oh My Gosh!,” sure to be an annoying influencer on your kids, for instance—just get more aggravating every time. That doesn’t stop them from using the same jokes over and over. When all else fails, they can fall back on the adorable hatchlings to blink their eyes and act cute.

It takes over an hour to get to anything even remotely resembling the birds being flung via slingshot at the pigs’ domiciles, which is also the closest the movie gets to the game. The plot up until that point mostly thrives on montage sequences; maybe there’s some goodwill to be earned from song choices, but even that doesn’t stretch far.

Just like the game, The Angry Birds Movie is the type of entertainment that can keep the youngest kids with the lowest attention spans entertained for 95 minutes. But don’t expect it to offer much beyond that.

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