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The Angry Birds Movie – Movie Review

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The Angry Birds Movie – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Sony Pictures

Some may sniff at the idea to adapt a smart phone game with a simple premise into a feature-length motion picture. However, Angry Birds’s birds vs. pigs concept seems ripe for a funny and entertaining comedic romp. Directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, making their directorial debuts after many years of animation experience, bring an almost Looney Tunes-like sensibility to the production. The titular easily agitated bird Red could almost be a distant cousin to Daffy Duck. As colourful and bouncy as The Angry Birds Movie is, the jokes tend to be hit-or-miss. Some bring smiles and genuine laughter, while other gags feel easy and obvious. Once we get to the expected third act, it seems like a lot of the comedy has already been exhausted.

The screenplay, credited to Jon Vitti, does a decent job of establishing the isolated world of the birds and creating their society. The avian twists are rather clever with bird puns not surprisingly thrown into the mix. The funnier gags tend to be the physical bits, where the animators let loose. Chuck, a bird who moves at Road Runner-like speed, must have been a particular delight to work on and he ultimately becomes the most endearing character of the bunch. Red has a dry and sarcastic sense of humour that suits Jason Sudeikis’s voice well, though there is a layer of sympathy that’s effective. The Angry Birds Movie is more about throwing jokes at the audience every second, but the few attempts at heart do work.

When the humour veers into more pop cultural terrain, it doesn’t fare as well. There are some odd soundtrack choices that feel shoe-horned in to be recognised by the audience and little else. There is an over abundance of pig puns, which become more groan-inducing with each successive one. It almost seems like the filmmakers made it a goal to exhaust every single pig pun, so nobody else will ever make them again. The Mighty Eagle, a mysterious deity figure worshipped by the birds, is the character that most grates on the nerves. Featuring Peter Dinklage playing yet another pompous character in a comedy, it’s gotten tired at this point. The Eagle depicted here is a one-joke figure, whose grand entrance is a disgusting urine joke that was actually a lot funnier in the marketing when only the shocked expressions of the birds were visible.

While the four central leads are well cast, the rest of the ensemble consists of celebrities merely hired for their name, when professional voice actors would have sufficed. Was it really necessary to bring in Tituss Burgess for two lines? Or Sean Penn to make grunting noises? The producers went through all of the trouble of bringing in C-list YouTube comedians Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox and then proceeded to give them as little dialogue as possible. The finale becomes one big tribute to the video game with almost all of the iconography included. It’s a zippy action scene with physical bits and sight gags at every corner and moving at break-neck speed. There is so much going on, it almost becomes dizzying as each bird sling shots through the pig metropolis. Once again, it’s Chuck that’s given the best moments, including a scene that would make the X-Men’s Quicksilver proud.

The Angry Birds Movie doesn’t quite break the video game curse, but it’s a noble effort. One can imagine the storyboard artists pitching jokes around the writer’s room and the film lives up to its promise with a joke coming every five seconds. One wishes most of the humour landed in the physical comedy department and with less pop culture references. This is a simple concept that has been stretched to feature length and to its credit, it’s a breezy escapade. While the film as a whole falls a little short of being particularly memorable, the potential for what the filmmakers can explore and expand in a sequel is certainly there.

Stefan Ellison

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