By Laurie Coker
An all-star voice cast leads the charge in The Angry Birds Movie, based on the popular app game of the same name. For years, Angry Birds has challenged young and old alike. Birds of various shapes, sizes and hues are sling-shot with a drag and release of a single finger at green snorting pigs, also of varying sizes, perched atop mountains, crates, rocks and more in warehouses, jungles and even in space in a game of skill and chance. Angry Birds has mesmerized millions of people. In the film the birds and some pigs speak and interact in a bird world where only one bird can fly – the “Mighty Eagle.” Given that the basis for the movie is a game with no explanation or plot, writer Jon Vitta had little with which to work. He successfully, albeit shallowly builds a plot around birds and pigs – adding reason to the bird’s anger at oddly colored swine. With exceptional voice-overs, vivid imagery and a couple of hilarious gags and jokes, in spite of its thin, overused storyline, The Angry Birds Movie entertains youngsters, but not so much the older set.
Red (Jason Sudeikis) has anger issues which come to a full head after a wild race to deliver a cake ends in disaster and Judge Peckinpah (Michael Keegan-Key) sentences him to time in an anger management spa with growling Terrence (Sean Penn), super speedy Chuck (Josh Gad), and explosive Bomb (Danny McBride). While there, Red notices something is amiss with a group of green piggies who arrive by ship with sinister plans. Led by Leonard (Bill Hader), the strange looking pigs befriend the birds, who won’t listen to Red when he tells them they are in danger. He, somewhat reluctantly, and his new buddies work to find the missing Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) and then to rescue the eggs stolen from the birds. It’s an extremely overworked premise anyway, and Vitta tries but fails to breathe fresh life into an already overly simplistic storyline.
Rated PG, The Angry Birds Movie falls short because it overuses many disjointed gags and makes references to the game in a way that while funny at first grows tired. There is just so little meat to the game other than birds being flung at pigs and structures and translated onto the big screen there is little added to really excite. To be fair, the casts does an amazing job and there are a few funny moments, but because of an apparent desire to engage parents too, some joke are lewd and inappropriate for little ones (over their heads too) and there aren’t enough of these to hold adult interest either. This confusing aspect of who the target audience actually is shows up most in the lack of audible audience laughter. Children chuckled here and there, one guy laughed loudly too often and a few of us adults snickered occasionally, but otherwise nothing.
Were it not for the colorful visuals and the human talent behind the creatures, The Angry Birds Movie would not have engaged at all – regardless of age. While it is hardly surprising, the wildly popular game just doesn’t lend itself to a full-length feature – at least not one with such target audience ambiguity. Had creators decide to create an adult-aimed film or one aimed only at children, then maybe, just maybe I would be putting higher than a D+/C- in my grade book.