“The animation is great, but everything else falls short.”
You’ve played the game where you’ve incessantly thrust flightless birds into crude structures filled with rotund pigs and boxes of dynamite, and know you an watch the movie! That’s right, Angry Birds follows Red, a bird who is very angry. He is so angry in fact, that he gets ordered to attend anger management class where he meets other perturbed fowl. This is until the island on which Red and every other bird reside gets a visit from a bunch of pigs who have apparently sailed over just to say hello. All of the other birds are blinded with the many gifts of trampolines and country songs that the pigs have brought with them, but Red sees right through their cunning plan. Eventually, the pigs act on their intentions and steal all of the eggs from bird island (or whatever the fuck it’s called) and Red and all of his friends have to follow them and take back what is rightfully theirs. Christ, that was a mouthful. The film stars Jason Sudeikis as Red, Josh Gad as Chuck, and Danny McBride as knock-off Seth Rogen. Angry Birds also stars literally every other famous actor; seriously, go and look at the IMDB page and prepared to be surprised.
When I sat down to watch Angry Birds, I wasn’t expecting much. Video game based movies don’t have the best track record, and children’s movies are very hit-or-miss. This led me to be very surprised when I fell in love with the beginning of Angry Birds. It had everything: good voice acting, funny jokes, an interesting premise, beautiful animation; but then the rest of the movie happened. The first red flag should have been when I saw the absolute shit-show that was the editing at the beginning of the film. Our main character is sad so he starts to wander around town, eventually getting back to his home which is as secluded as his personality. Then, all of a sudden, we get to see our main character as a child being bullied. “That was weird”, I thought to myself but then wrote it off as being a dream sequence. But then it happened again. It was at this point that I learned that not only was this film made for children, it was apparently made by them too. Instead of having the film take place in chronological order (you know, like a regular movie), they pull some Memento shit and confuse the hell out of me. Honestly, for a minute I thought that Red had a child that we hadn’t been introduced to, and that child was for some reason in the lost and found. This should have been the point where I gave up on Angry Birds, but I pushed through. What I found was not very pleasant. See, when I joked about children making this movie earlier, I actually meant it to a degree. Have you ever had a child tell you a story? If so, you will know that children, being stupid, don’t understand proper story structure. Instead of saying that a man went to the store to buy some milk, and then got a call that his wife was in the hospital, a child might say “The guy went to the store because he was thirsty, then he went to the Hospital”. See how there is a big “why” missing in the child’s version of the story? That is essentially what Angry Birds is comprised of. “The bird got angry and pushed cake in another birds face, then he had to go to an anger class, and then some pigs showed up, and then the birds were having fun with the pigs, and then the pigs stole the eggs, and then the birds had to get the eggs back”. It was like that, but almost two hours long. Nothing in Angry Birds had any motivation, things just kind of happened. I could literally sit here all day and type out all of the story inconsistencies in Angry Birds, but you don’t want to read all of that. Instead I will just tell you that the list would be virtually endless. So Angry Birds suffers from disjointed storytelling, but in a way I get it. The film appears to have been written by a child because it is appealing to children. Kids don’t give a shit why anything is happening, they just want to see shit happen. This doesn’t mean the film gets a pass, there are many children’s movies that are very well made for everyone, but it is understandable.
Strike two comes with the revelation of the film’s message (or messages). Angry Birds started off as a movie about a bird dealing with his anger. We get to see glimpses of what caused his anger (bullying because of his stupid eyebrows), and we were going to learn how to deal with anger throughout the film. Children’s movies have a responsibility like no other, because they have the attention of a child for a period of time they must try to teach them a lesson. This is a very important part of children’s movies, and the message that was presented in Angry Bird was not one that I have seen any other movie deal with. The problem is that Angry Birds didn’t really deal with this problem either. You see, in the midst of the disjointed storytelling that I mentioned before, Angry Birds seemed to have lost the thread of what it was trying to say. The film shifted gears from a “how to deal with your anger” movie to a “be yourself” movie. This message got almost instantly overrun with an allegory for racism. The film then seemingly taught you to be weary of people who sail to your island, and then it went for the colonization metaphor. Angry Birds then apparently wanted to do an “anybody can do anything” theme, but that was trampled by the entire third act which was essentially one long action sequence. Peter Dinklage was there too as The Mighty Eagle, a washed-up superhero who I’m assuming was part of another theme that I completely missed. Really Angry Birds just needed to take a minute, catch its breath, and figure out which way it wanted to go. Unfortunately it didn’t have time for that because it was too busy making puns. That’s right, at the beginning of the film these puns were really great. Sure they were low-hanging fruit (what puns aren’t), but they were genuinely funny. Despite these jokes being a hit when the film started, they eventually got run into the ground. Who knew that when you say a joke fifty times it loses its punch. By the third act all of these puns became more like a checklist that I was keeping in my head than an actual joke. “Oh, the pigs have a HAM radio? Check. “Birds of a feather” joke? Check”. Much like with everything else in Angry Birds, a little restraint would have proved useful. Honestly the worst part of Angry Birds in my opinion was the fucking music. Much like the way the story was told, I understand that you need to inject a shitload of music into your kids movie just to get the little shits to pay attention; my problem is with the very uninspired choices of music. Once again Angry Birds starts off very well in this category providing a unique variation on its original theme. This quickly devolves into “how many top-40 songs can we get the rights to”. If anyone from the Angry Birds production is reading this, I have some free advice for you: sometimes less is more. For example if there is a scene in your movie where two characters are speaking and you need some music, maybe just play some light piano or something; I don’t need Blake Shelton yelling in my ear about how great it is to be somebody’s fucking best friend. And the songs didn’t even fit into the movie, they were about as shoehorned-in as you could get. “Oh, the pigs have a song to sing? Why did the pig suddenly turn into Blake Shelton?” “Why is Limp Bizkit singing now? You couldn’t just have some sad piano music?”, and so-on and so-on.
Now don’t be fooled, there were some things that I liked about Angry Birds. To get to those things however, I have to discuss my last issue with the movie. All of the voice actors in Angry Birds were fine. Some of them were great others were not so great, but in general they were fine. My problem is why did you have Danny McBride do a shitty Seth Rogen impression the whole time? Did you originally want Seth Rogen in the role, but when he declined to make a movie about a sausage you put out a casting call for anyone who could do a Seth Rogen impression? I mean Danny McBride has a great voice, why didn’t you just use that? Did he want to do a Seth Rogen impression? Is he jealous of Seth Rogen? Was he doing to impression as vocal warm-up and you just really liked it so you made him do it the whole movie? I just have so many questions. Anyway, moving on to what I liked about Angry Birds let’s start with what I though worked in the story. I already mentioned that I liked the beginning of the film, but it went downhill fast. Luckily, the movie was able to save itself in its third act; well, “save itself” is a little generous so let’s just say that it did the best that it could. In its third act Angry Birds decided to throw all story out the window and make a thirty minute action scene. This was great because the story was shit anyway. Sure, this portion of the film had very little weight because the setup was so poor, but it was fun to watch nonetheless. The shining point for me was absolutely the film’s brilliant animation. Now the birds themselves were nothing to write home about, and it makes sense because the were made to appear cartoon-esque, but the environment was absolutely breathtaking. I first noticed it during the ‘fight scene’ between Red and the dummy; the way the sand reacted to these two objects fighting was almost surreal. It was like they filmed actual sand, but keyed out the people and replaced them with animated birds. This feeling only grew stronger when I saw how beautiful the water was in the movie. I’m not joking when I say that if you remove the cartoon boat from some of the sailing scenes (specifically the one where they sail through the fog), I wouldn’t be able to tell you that it was fake. This level of animation is amazing, and the only other movie with animation like this that I have seen (that I can recall) would be The Lego Movie. It was absolutely breathtaking to watch Angry Birds, it’s just too bad that the story didn’t live up to the animation quality.
Ultimately Angry Birds wasn’t terrible. If you have a kid and they want to watch this movie, you won’t be completely bored. That being said, if you don’t have a kid and want to watch Angry Birds for any reason I would maybe warn you that it is not great. The animation is great, but everything else falls short. Maybe you could put it on in the background if you’re too lazy to turn on Spotify for whatever reason.
I give Angry Birds a C