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August 27, 2016

The Angry Birds Movie

by Franz Patrick


Angry Birds Movie, The (2016)
★ / ★★★★

In its desperate and intolerable attempt to appeal to as many people as possible, “The Angry Birds Movie” ends up becoming just another forgettable animated picture that is supposed to be entertaining solely because the birds look cute, the computer animation is consistently colorful, and the so-called jokes—which rarely land or do not even bother to have a punchline—are based on popular culture. Look closely and realize that what we have here is not bottom-of-the-barrel material. Rather, it offers rotten, ugly, insulting underneath-the-barrel detritus masquerading as an innocuous animated flick. Worse, it is targeted for children. Warning: They will lose brain cells.

The first hour drags because the screenplay by Jon Vitti lacks a sense of urgency. Countless times we are shown Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) exhibiting a short temper and prone to having fits of rage, but the emotion is not given complexity. As a result, each encounter Red has, even though it is with different characters, tends to deliver the same result. It is boring, uninspired, and one gets the feeling that those involved in writing and helming the script do not have grand imaginations or even exciting inspirations.

The voice cast offers nothing spectacular. Since the material is so bland, they all begin to sound the same eventually. The talents of Peter Dinklage, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Sean Penn are wasted for the most part. A standout, however, is Josh Gad, giving life to Chuck, the bird with a gift for speed. Although the character is almost always turned up to eleven, I enjoyed the way Gad is able to tap into different kinds and levels of excitement. His talent rises well above material that is essentially a waste of energy and time. I hope he was paid handsomely.

Perhaps the lowest point of the picture is what could have been the most compelling had intelligent, clever, humanistic writers were at the helm. It involves Red, along with Chuck and Bomb (Danny McBride), discovering that the figure that he and fellow flightless birds in the island looked up to as children, the Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), is just another flawed, disappointing bird who had let himself go. There is a line in the script that is merely thrown away when it should have had genuine, powerful emotional impact. It involves the eagle being the only bird on the island that is able to fly but actually chooses not to.

So who is the “Angry Birds” for? It is not for children, despite it being superficially lively and colorful, because it does not challenge them intellectually or emotionally. On the contrary, one can construct an argument that it teaches them to fear the Other, given that the pigs are from another land and they only befriend the birds so they can steal and eat their eggs. But that aside, is it for adults? No, it is not because the entertainment value is so low, one would have to scrape the floor for morsels.

This film is for the movie studios simply wishing to capitalize on a brand. While the games are entertaining and require a bit of thinking in order to solve the puzzles, the movie is the exact opposite: stultifying in its dullness, stench, mediocrity, and lack of innovation. If you dare to turn an app into a full feature film, there better a good reason. The material here offers none.

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