Film Review: 'The Angry Birds Movie'

The Angry Birds Movie retains all of the color of its smartphone origins, but none of the humor. (Columbia Pictures)

The Angry Birds Movie retains all of the color of its smartphone origins, but none of the humor. (Columbia Pictures)

It's a movie that came four or five years too late. It puts minimal effort into making a ubiquitous smartphone game feel original and worthwhile. It's a case of avian flu that ruffles many feathers; the angriest of the lot being not the birds, but the patrons that could have gone and watched something else instead. It caters to the kids, the fans of the game that might get a ruse out of Sean Penn exclusively grunting his way through a voice acting gig. But like most terrible movie versions of games, there's little else to peck at for the wider audience the film so desperately tries to capture.

It's The Angry Birds Movie, and the best way to sum it up is that it's just an Angry Birds movie.

(Columbia Pictures)

(Columbia Pictures)

What I mean is that beyond literally depicting the succinct premise of angry birds getting revenge on piggies, The Angry Birds Movie does little else to make the experience anything beyond a 90-minute commercial for the game. Behold: angry avian Red (Jason Sudeikis) has to undergo anger management therapy with speedster Chuck (Josh Gad), the explosive Bomb (Danny McBride), and Terence (Penn), a mean-mugging hulk of a bird that communicated in grunts. Meanwhile, mysterious green piggies land on their birds-only island, who appear to come in peace. Red smells a rat - sure enough, the piggies swipe the precious eggs from the island.

Red's solution? Get angry, everybody, because we're going after those piggies.

The writers may have succeeded in creating a simple plot that's perfect for a younger audience, but fail in adding anything beyond a barrage of bird puns to make the movie even remotely palatable for just about anyone else. It's apparent the screenplay spend a lot of time getting punched up with jokes rather than making Red and the gang likable enough characters to sustain a full movie. The Angry Birds Movie carries with it the overwhelming feeling that they just converted the game's simple premise into a script and tried to let everything else fall into place - which didn't happen.

(Columbia Pictures)

(Columbia Pictures)

While Red's journey through the film is justifiably an arc, there's hardly enough material in the story to sustain even such a short offering. The already sparse funny parts (yes, there are a some!) number less and less as the film flutters on, and the avalanche of game tie-ins will make eyes roll out of their heads, epitomized in a high-flying, destructive climactic sequence as the birds inevitably slingshot their way through piggie town. At this point, it's more like watching someone play a super-mega-HD version of the game instead of watching a movie.

While it's typical that animated movies target a younger audience, truly successful ones have a more widespread appeal and can be enjoyed by just about anyone; that’s what makes Pixar films so great. Granted, what they do as gifted storytellers is incredibly difficult to replicate, and while I wasn't expecting The Angry Birds Movie to do the same, a modicum of effort towards that goal would have been great. Instead, it's a boisterous, colorful cash grab that is well beyond the Angry Birds heyday.

Rated PG. 97 minutes.

Written by John Cohen, Mikael Hed, & Mikko Polla (story) and Jon Vitti (screenplay).

Directed by Clay Tatis & Fergal Reilly.

Starring Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, and Sean Penn.

© 2015 Rex J. Lindeman.   All rights reserved.   |   (760) 274-5948   |   rexlindeman@gmail.com

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