One shouldn’t expect much from a video game turned into a movie, but even I was curious at how a coherent narrative could come out of an endless puzzle game that captured countless first-time tablet and smart phone users several years ago and has become a merchandising and licensing boom in sales.
I had my strong doubts going in too. Oh sure, there were little tidbits of stories that could be gathered from short clips within the game here and there, but could an Angry Birds movie really stand on its own?
Apparently, that’s a question that wasn’t examined enough.
The movie starts out with short-tempered Red (Jason Sudeikis) who’s been ordered by Judge Peckinpah (Keegan-Michael Key) to take anger management classes after his latest failing, this time as birthday performer goes awry.
As Red is predictably reluctant to participate in Matilda’s (Maya Rudolph) exercises, others in the class who recognize their shortcomings are much more willing, including the never-at-rest Chuck (Josh Gad, who is ubiquitous), the explosive Bomb (Danny Mcbride) and the massive Terence (voiced by none other than Sean Penn).
Red has alienated himself from the rest of the aviary clan that his house is moved to the edge of the island, on the beach, which winds up being a front row seat for a sudden invasion of pigs, who arrive on pirate ships assuaging the birds’ fears that they are indeed peaceful.
What the pigs truly desire is to steal all of the birds’ unhatched eggs and get fat off of eating omelets. Yeah, I thought that was kinda vile, too.
The first time you’ll look at your watch, you’ll probably let out a deep sigh and realize that it will take much more time to get to the point where it resembles the sling-shotting video game.
The Angry Birds are the only ones who sniff out the pigs’ plans while the rest of the birds remain charmed by their leader Leonard (Bill Hader).
That’s when the Angry Birds turn to the birds’ fabled protector, Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) who is anything but. Foul and deplorable, the revered savior is more sloth that sleuth, more bum than brave.
If there were a poster boy for worshipping false idols, the Mighty Eagle would be it and while there’s humor to be found in these scenes, it’s not enough to sustain a lasting impression.
Ironically, I might have enjoyed the film more if there were more of Eagle, as Dinklage often finds himself in these films (Knights of Badassdom, Pixels, Death at a Funeral) where he or his character is unquestionably the best thing in the film but only has a handful of scenes.
That unfortunate rule applies here, too.
Plenty of money has been spent to make this look like a top-flight movie.
The animation is great, the art direction is solid and if you wind up spending the extra money on a 3D screening, you will be especially entertained in the film’s final act that had the novelty in mind when it was being created.
Unfortunately, it’s about all you’ll be able to salvage from an otherwise forgettable film.
A lot of the jokes fall prey to the lowest common denominator or will leave you a little stunned, if not bothered if you’re a parent who has brought along young ones.
I don’t consider myself a square, but a lot of the behavior exhibited by the main characters is stuff mothers and fathers have spent endless hours trying making sure their kids don’t learn, especially in how they express and exercise their anger.
The plays on words border too closely to their counterpart like “flock” and the script is never smart enough to draw in that older, kid-less crowd who is probably waiting for something far more extreme and unhinged like Seth Rogen’s upcoming Sausage Party.
Most of the original users of the video game are all at least in college by now, if not much older. Rovio Animation is targeting the young demographic with this bright and colorful palette of characters and fluffy, feathery cast.
Yet, the comedy is either written way down or way up with little room for in-between. Much of it is bawdy and questionable in taste, putting it in a odd space to recommend to any one particular moviegoer.
Certain jokes will skim past young minds – hope that they do – but at the other end of the spectrum, it’s certain to test your tolerance for the rude and crude.
Nothing is wrong with that, Angry Birds is based on a touch screen game designed to waste free time after all.
There’s just nothing great about it either.