Genre: Family, Action and Adventure
Director: Fergal Reilly, Clay Kaytis
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Keegan-Michael Key
Release Date: May 20th, 2016
The beginning of The Angry Birds Movie is the best part of the film. It’s here when the audience doesn’t realize what’s in store for them over the next ninety minutes. It’s also here where the story actually seems interested in offering something quirky and unique.
On the appropriately-named Bird Island where the population is happy and naive, there exists an angry one named Red (Jason Sudeikis). Always pessimistic and bitter, Red doesn’t like other birds and lives alone. After a rough encounter at a birthday party (yes, this obnoxious bird was supposed to deliver joy at a child’s party), Red is sentenced to an anger management class.
His fellow ill-tempered classmates include an overzealous bird named Chuck (Josh Gad, perfectly-cast here) and a bird aptly-named Bomb (Danny McBride), who can literally cause an explosion when he’s upset.
One day, a ship with a few pigs on it arrives on the island. Led by Leonard (Bill Hader), a self-involved showoff, these visitors claim that they have lost their homeland but Red — who is well known on Bird Island for his abrasiveness and mean streak — is immediately suspicious.
Like other animated features, the plot is predictable here as Red’s fellow citizens quickly become enamored by the pigs’ fun gadgets and fun personalities while Red’s paranoia only continues to grow. The movie however does surprise in how low it stoops in its attempts at humor and how much crass content is featured.
“Guys ever thought about bird control?” Red asks when he sees a large group of birds crossing the street. Lines like that might not be understood by children but adults will probably be shocked that such one-liners were kept in a movie that is being marketed to young families (who deserve so much better).
The script by Jon Vitti and the story credited to John Cohen, Mikael Hed and Mikko Polla is packed with such comedy. For instance, the scene where Red, Chuck and Bomb meet the legendary Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), an iconic bird on the island, starts with the three of them witnessing him going to the bathroom right in front of them.
“Horrible turn of events,” Red says after their introduction to the eagle but that sentiment can be said for this predictable film as a whole. What started as an interesting concept — an angry bird forced into anger management — settles into a plot that is far less interesting and far less entertaining. The anger management concept really worked to bring the name of the app (that this feature was inspired by) to life by showing angry birds forced to confront their own frustrations.
Instead, The Angry Birds Movie turns into a seemingly endless (97 minutes feels like a long time here) and gross film that never finds its true identity. This is a movie made for children that also wants to throw in crass and gross-out gags that only some adults will understand. Directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, who are making their directorial debut here, have worked on quality films before. Kaytis served as an animator on Frozen (2013), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), and Chicken Little (2005) while Reilly worked as a storyboard artist on Spider-Man 2 (2004) and The Iron Giant (1999).
Each of these previous projects were able to thrive in their respective genres without settling for lowbrow humor or forgettable laughs — two things The Angry Birds movie relies on.
Review by: John Hanlon