Tweetable Takeaway: Loud, bright, and fast-paced, #TheAngryBirdsMovie grates the nerves. Play the game instead. Tweet
How successful an adaptation will be can often be determined by looking at the source material. A film based on a beloved literary classic should, predictably, be tolerable. Maybe even great. But when a movie’s source material is a game downloaded on smartphones, the sole purpose of which is to serve as a brief distraction, one can assume a 90-minute adaptation that attempts to stay faithful to its ‘story’ won’t translate very well. There’s still a possibility for success, but in the case of THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE, we get an unfunny, brightly colored, loud mess of a movie. In fact, I’d happily trade any other app on my phone to be turned into a movie. Instagram: The Movie, consisting of a series of images in different filters? Sounds like a more enjoyable movie than Angry Birds. The Notepad Movie, in which we read half-complete thoughts and to-do lists. I’ll watch it twice before I watch Angry Birds again.
The movie follows Red, a bird with a temper problem, voiced by Jason Sudeikis. Red lives on an island filled with sentient, flightless birds. The vast majority of his brethren appear to be genetically predisposed to happiness. Cloying, supremely irritating happiness. An island where the greatest punishment one can face is to attend anger management classes. And that’s just where Red finds himself, along with yellow fast-moving bird Chuck (voiced by Josh Gad, a small bright spot in the film), Bomb (voiced by Danny McBride), and Terence, a giant red bird who only grunts and moans throughout the entire film. Amazingly, in a role that anyone could easily play, Sean Penn has taken it upon himself to provide the voice work. I don’t think anybody can watch this movie and identify Sean Penn as the grunter, so besides getting another big name to tout on the movie poster, I’m not sure what the decision behind hiring him could possibly be.
If the movie’s internal logic was already on shaky ground, by the time we reach the anger-management classes, it goes flying off the rails. For starters, neither Chuck nor Bomb seem to have actual anger problems. Specifically, as far as Bomb goes, the example he gives for attending the class is that he literally exploded when he was startled at a surprise birthday party. And it’s clear he’s immediately remorseful. They only attend the classes because the movie needs the main characters of the original game to be in the same room. And that’s how much of the film proceeds, in which events occur with little motivation or logic to serve the constraints of the game upon which the movie is based. That’s exactly what happens when the green pigs arrive at the island of the birds in a large ship, destroying Red’s house in the process. While this causes Red much consternation, none of his fellow birds care, and in fact actively try to shut him up.
We’re also treated to a montage of the other birds being cruel to Red throughout his life – making fun of his eyebrows, for example – so when the pigs finally get around to stealing all of the eggs on the island to eat, it isn’t the slightest bit believable that Red would bother to help anyone. But help them he does, of course, using the slingshot the pigs offered up as a gift to do it. Just like the game, the birds start to slingshot themselves at the city of the pigs, destroying as much as they can, never mind the innocent lives that may be taken in the process.
The entire movie moves at a breakneck pace, letting up only once to take a breath and assess the plot happenings. It feels like the equivalent of chugging a five-hour energy drink every five minutes and proceeding to run through a waterfall of Skittles. Even worse, the barrage of gags and jokes and puns the movie hurls at the audience consistently fail. They’re lame and unoriginal. The pigs use a ham radio. Get it? They also have a book called Fifty Shades of Green. Since they’re green, see? The writers simply swapped grey for green. Spoiler alert: that joke is about as good as it gets.
Some of the jokes are even a little jarring given the target audience. Red manages to get away with saying, “Pluck my life,” and something about flocking something. When the eggs are gone, Chuck offers repopulation as a solution, and tells ladies to get busy whilst thrusting with his hands and hips. There’s plenty of ways to hide adult humor in a kid’s movie, but Angry Birds opts for the obvious, the blatant, and the borderline inappropriate.
There’s not much to recommend in Angry Birds. Sure, it’ll entertain young children, but at the risk of parents losing their sanity, why not put on a brightly colored animated movie that also pays attention to character and plot. For those who love everything Angry Birds, playing the game for 90 minutes will yield far more entertainment and pleasure.
I give it 1 Sean Penn grunt out of 5.
Score: 1 out of 5
Wil Loper | Contributor