The Angry Birds Movie
Director(s): Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly
Writer(s): Jon Vitti
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Sean Penn, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate McKinnon, Tony Hale, Hannibal Buress, Ike Barinholtz, Titus Burgess, Jillian Bell and Ian Andrew Hecox
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)May 20, 2016 - Wide
To be honest, before I screened Sony’s Angry Birds movie, I had never once played or even seen the game upon which it is based. After watching the film, I admit I downloaded it. So that power of persuasion has to count for something.
Jason Sudeikis voices Red, a temperamental bird with Groucho Marx eyebrows who doesn’t fit in with the generally happy and shallow flightless residents of Bird Island. After a gig as a birthday clown goes wrong, Red finds himself sentenced to an anger management class by the long-winded and self-important Judge Peckinpah (Keegan-Michael Key). Red does as little as he can, to the dismay of the teacher (Maya Rudolph) but manages to get befriended by the speedy Chuck (Josh Gad) and explosive Bomb (Danny McBride). When a group of pigs led by Leonard (Bill Hader) visit the island, everyone is taken in by their friendly behavior except Red, who sees something nefarious in their actions. When his doubts are proven correct, Red may be the only one who can save the birds that have always made him feel like an outsider.
Let’s get this out of the way. Angry Birds is a carefully designed tool to capitalize on a successful video game and, by giving us some back stories and fun characters, hopefully turn around the fortunes of Rovio, the Finnish company that created the game and funded the flick. After layoffs and losses, if the movie hits it out of the park they’ll get a nice new stream of revenues from things like merchandise. There’s not a lot of depth here. The film basically expands on the premise of the game and by the time we hit the film’s final third, we’re essentially watching a 3D version of the gameplay in progress as the birds try to take on the pigs. As I mentioned, I hadn’t played the game before but after seeing the film, the learning curve was much easier. Even the missus wants to check the game out. So if the game and film are in a symbiotic relationship where the film wants to make you play the game and the game wants to make you watch the film, the business model has succeeded.
Given all that, screenwriter Jon Vitti, who has worked on The Simpsons and The Larry Sanders Show, does give us a screenplay that provides a little something for everyone. The kids in the audience loved the characters, the action and the bathroom jokes. The parents liked the double meanings and bad pig jokes (Kevin Bacon in Hamlet) and the music rights owners will love a soundtrack that features everything from Black Sabbath to rap.
First-time directors Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis oversee animation that keeps the game’s bold palette and take us into the action with 3D, which only makes sense in a film about a game that involves throwing birds.
Angry Birds may not be that memorable but it is a fun diversion that is tailor-made for the fans of the game.