By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
The once popular and addictive Rovio phone video game gets the cinematic treatment and the results are more or less similar to other films based on video games. I have yet to see a game-inspired movie that truly impresses me. Last year’s Hitman: Agent 47 came pretty close, but still missed the mark. I’m not sure exactly why this particular type of film doesn’t get the same care in its development that movies based on comic book stories usually do, but if producers want to impress critics and earn some respectable bank at the box office, they should pay attention to the work and effort Marvel Studios puts into their successful franchise.
The Angry Birds Movie has an advantage that others don’t. They have a built-in audience with children and this will definitely help fill some seats in the theater. The very cartoonish film will most certainly appeal to young children, but I cannot honestly see too many teens and adults finding this adaptation all that satisfying. The movie does have an exceptional voice cast and some fun jokes and gags, but the story and plot just don’t have a much. Though some of the humor does work, some of the material gets repeated too often and some falls flat from the get-go. Sadly, this movie had the potential for outshining its game inspiration, but the writing just isn’t there.
On Bird Island, various flightless birds live happily and peacefully. The only exception is the bitter and grouchy bird Red (Jason Sudeikis). Red works as a courier and has one particularly bad day on the job which lands him in an anger management course with birds Chuck (Joshua Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride), and Terrence (Sean Penn). When a group of pigs and their leader Leonard (Bill Hader) threaten the happy lives of the island’s inhabitants, Red and his new buddies must tap into their anger and skills to protect their home.
Written by Jon Vitti and directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, The Angry Birds Movie plays out like an overly long cartoon short. Kids will no doubt love the colorful characters and slapstick comedy. Even though the film does have some fun pop culture references and some funny bird puns for the grown-ups, the humor wears thin after a while. Had there been more to the thin story and plot, and a greater variety of humor attempts, I would be writing a more favorable review. The movie isn’t all bad. I did find myself laughing at some of the humor and the fun characters, but also felt some annoyance and frustration during other moments.
To its benefit, the cast bringing these characters to life offers some outstanding work. Jason Sudeikis is absolutely perfect for the snarky, sarcastic, and angry Red. Joshua Gad who impressed me with his exuberant voice work as Olaf in Frozen, is a blast of exciting energy as the hyper bird Chuck. I also really enjoyed Maya Rudolph as the new-age, anger management counselor Matilda, Bill Hader as the shady pig Leonard, and Danny McBride as the incendiary bird Bomb. Peter Dinklage delivers a delightfully commanding performance as the legendary Mighty Eagle. The film also features some fun work by Keegan Michael Key, Kate McKinnon, Sean Penn, Tony Hale, and much more.
Despite the fun characters and the awesome actors who voiced them, the film could have been so much better with stronger writing, particularly in the humor department. As children’s entertainment goes, this film would make a fine matinee viewing for kids and their parents, but for any interested teens and adults without children, I wouldn’t recommend wasting the time and money at the cinema. The Angry Birds Movie is not the worst video game adaptation I have ever seen, but it still doesn’t do much to sell me on this genre.