“One adult and one child for Angry Birds please”, such were the words (with some numerical variations depending on your family head count and viewing habits) uttered earlier this year by many parent cinemagoers and who’d have ever thought it was the case? In a year of big name sequels struggling to hit the box office mark and Hollywood taking a lot of hits on the chin, many film fans have bemoaned the lack of creativity in the mainstream cinema schedules. So an animated movie based on the incredibly popular bird throwing android game Angry Birds was always going to take a bit of flack. However this has been a strange year with some crushing failures and equally shocking successes, so on which side of the boundary does this feathered frolic fall?
On the jolly little community of Bird Island, Red (Jason Sudeikis) and his explosive temper sees him live as a bit of a loner, until one mishap at his job causes a “premature hatching”. This sees Red assigned to anger management where he meets the fast and slightly barmy Chuck (Josh Gad), nervously explosive Bomb (Danny McBride) and silently intimidating Terence (Sean Penn). Progress is slow but soon therapy is the least of Red’s worries, as a boat of green pigs arrives at the island. The happy residents of Bird Island gleefully buy into these pigs tales of finding new friends in new places but Red is suspicious…and with good reason because needless to say these guys are telling porkies.
The basic plot of the game saw the pigs stealing the birds eggs and naturally the slingshotting fowls being a little peeved about it, so adapting that into a movie was always going to be a bit of a stretch (see what we did there?). In fact it is fair to say that we, like most, approached this film with all the enthusiasm of a new reality show on ITV 2, and yet The Angry Birds Movie is not bad. It does struggle to formulate a full and smooth story out of its source material – especially through the first hour – but come a genuinely enjoyable payoff, the film does manage to at least try… and thus partially succeeds. We did expect a soulless cash-in and the fact that Mikael Hed, Mikko Pöllä and John Cohen’s story genuinely tries to add emotional depth and character is very commendable.
This film hardly re-invents anything, it is done in broad strokes, overstuffed with pop culture gags and Jon Vitti’s screenplay misses as many gags as it hits but the young ones will have a laugh and adults could (and will) have sat through far worse than this. The animation is enormously colourful and the film does have moments of real joy (a funny opening anger montage, the faithful-to-the-game action finale) and some charming lead characters. Red is the best character certainly, though Josh Gad’s chirpy (and slightly effeminate) Chuck is fun, as is Danny McBride’s Bomb and Sean Penn’s Terrence who practically only growls for the whole film but emerges as one of the movies best points. The supporting crew are a mixed bag, just like the first hour’s well worn tropes of villagers not listening to reason and the insistent pop soundtrack but it moves at a fast pace and doesn’t drag.
Did it need to exist? No, and for sure the movie does become padded out at points (Peter Dinklage’s Mighty Eagle character) to justify feature length treatment. However, those expecting a film bad enough to want your eyes pecked out may be surprised to find a film that is not sophisticated nor fresh but a fun watch for kids and with a few attempts at really trying to tell a worthwhile story, especially with the emotional beats of social inclusion.
Special Features: Featurettes / Deleted Scenes / Shorts / Bonus Scene / Music Video / Photo Gallery / Symphony Mode
THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: CLAY KAYTIS, FERGAL REILLY / SCREENPLAY: JON VITTI / STARRING: JASON SUDEIKIS, JOSH GAD, DANNY MCBRIDE, MAYA RUDOLPH, KATE MCKINNON, SEAN PENN / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 17TH