In a world where cartoons seem to be doing a better job appealing to wider audiences, The Angry Birds Movie – as a cartoon – misses the mark. As a video game movie, well, it does the best it can, I guess.
Anyone who works with me knows I watch a LOT of cartoons. Even with all of my love for action or horror flicks, my fascination with the art of animated film (computer or hand-drawn) comes because of the balance struck (when these films are done correctly) between two ends: the visual innovation, and social commentary that’s there for adults to pick up on, and then the seemingly innocent play for youngsters. Lots of films have done this recently: Zootopia, Frozen, Despicable Me – I could probably even make the case for the recent Peanuts movie.
Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve taken a step back here with video game-based movie The Angry Birds Movie. Not like you can blame Sony or Rovio, I guess (no, actually, you can) – seeing as there’s very little to go off of in this film.
Starring Jason Sudekis, Danny McBride and Josh Gad, the film chronicles Angry Bird Red (Sudekis) and his efforts to convince his other flightless neighbours on Bird Island that they are being invaded by pigs. For those of us who aren’t aware of the game: you shoot birds at pigs, who are hanging out in some kind of structure. You only need to watch the first few minutes of the YouTube video below before you get my point.
Of course, Red’s friends, Chuck (Gad) and Bomb (McBride) are there to help him prove his point. You get the sense these flightless birds as a general population are either a) not the smartest, or, b) completely ignorant of letting pigs just come to your island, invade it, and use resources without doing a full background check. I understand we need kindle to start the fire, but some of the stupidity exhibited by these birds stretches the imagination.
For me, though, that wasn’t the biggest faux pas. I think running into something I’d left back in the early 2000’s: Gothika – did it for me. I won’t go into an in-depth complaint, here – all I will say is Gothika wasn’t Halle Berry finest hour. The song ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ was used in Gothika, and in awkward execution, also used in The Angry Birds Movie. I was a little more than slack jawed as the song played in the cartoon. I found it a little lazy, coming from music guy Heitor Pereira (this is the same guy who put together the music for Minions, Despicable Me and The Smurfs, which he did a great job with), but I guess you can’t win them all.
The heavy reliance on potty humour in this film is also lazy. It wasn’t offensive, it just seemed to me to be the easiest way out of the paper bag. It’s already a stretch, making a movie out of a game that sling shots birds at pigs in poorly built houses, but I thought Sony would try to elevate this movie’s plot and elements. Sitting through the film as a youngster is no problem, because you’re into the Road Runner antics. But as an adult who has to sit there with their child, it makes it feel as cheap as downloading the game onto your phone or tablet.
What this movie DOES have going for it is the animation. It’s hard not to ooh and ahh at the baby birds; they’re pretty cute. Sometimes the birds are funny, but, as I mentioned earlier, more of the humour comes from crude jokes and the sort of hitting-someone-over-the-head-with-a-mallet kind of comedy. Every once in a while, I’d get a kick out of the pigs, but it wasn’t anything memorable.
I’m not expecting parents to pass this film over, but I’m also not expecting it to dethrone Captain America: Civil War. It’ll probably be up there performance-wise at the box office (I think we’re looking at a number two placement, more likely than not). The idea that film studios are taking movies based on apps and sans-storyline video games (I’ll have a rant for you on the confirmed Tetris trilogy soon, and that’s NOT a joke) is the epitome of everything that’s wrong with Hollywood right now. Forget the bad young adult novel adaptations, or the remakes of classics that don’t need them. Brace yourselves, folks: we’ve entered another round of more-likely-than-not mediocre or bad films – and it looks like developers like Rovio will be happy to cash in.
This movie just barely gets 3 Angry Birds out of 5 from me. If you have kids who want to see it, go. If you and a big group of friends want to see it, go. If you’re on the fence about it, you can afford to wait until it comes out on home release.