Review: The Angry Birds Movie
PLOT: A moderately angry bird named Red (Jason Sudeikis) finds himself forced to take anger management classes. But, when an army of seemingly friendly pigs invade Bird Island, Red winds up being the only bird to get his feathers ruffled by the newcomers – and maybe the only one who can save Bird Island from extinction!
REVIEW: It’s confession time folks. I’ve never played Angry Birds. I know this game dominated smartphones for years but whatever – I’m too busy on my Kindle or Spotify to bother much with it. So I went into THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE knowing absolutely nothing about this CGI universe, so you could say I watched it with the bar set pretty low. As long as it was cute I’d be happy – and I certainly wasn’t expecting something on par with Pixar or ZOOTOPIA in this Sony Imageworks production.
Sadly, THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE managed not even to fulfill those admittedly modest expectations with this being an ordeal to sit through from start to finish. For one thing – these birds weren’t even really angry. Star-voice Jason Sudeikis only manages to evoke the moderate anger of an eye-roll, but I guess GRUMPY BIRDS isn’t as catchy a title. Granted this is a kid’s movie and should be reviewed as such. In that vein, I caught this at a packed Saturday morning promo-screening chockfull of kids, and to me they mostly seemed restless and bored. It takes a good half-hour for the story to kick in, and another half-hour after that for the conflict or angry bird action to start. Up to then it’s a modest, inoffensive collection of episodes that make it feel more like a string of viral videos cobbled together rather than an actual movie.
Given the thin premise (logline: angry birds) one probably shouldn’t hold it to a really high standard, but for a ninety minute comedy this is awful sluggish. In fact, most of the film seems to be driven by the hope kids will go home and download Angry Birds apps, while preferably checking out the soundtrack, chockfull of adult contemporary hits for the folks, with a big set piece set to a Blake Shelton country-ditty. So really, this is a commercial. Even worse – when the song “Behind Blue Eyes” is used they opt for the Limp Bizkit cover! Oh, the horror!
Probably the only thing ANGRY BIRDS has going for it are the colorful, cute birds and the voice cast. Sudeikis does his best to inject some personality into the part, even if an angrier actor in the part would have been more fun (imagine Michael Shannon voicing one?). Josh Gad does his usual thing as a manic bird named Chuck, while Danny McBride plays a chubby bird prone to exploding. Maya Rudolph and people like Keegan Michael-Key and Kate McKinnon try to give the film a little spice, but all to no avail. The only really funny voice acting comes from Bill Hader, who by now seems incapable of not being at least somewhat amusing. The highly touted voice acting by Sean Penn as a hulking bird named Terrence has little effect as all he does is grunt. If he wasn’t prominently billed you’d have no idea it was him.
Of course, many of you may think I’m being unreasonable by slamming something as innocuous as ANGRY BIRDS, but the argument that it’s “just for kids” holds very little water these days, when other “just for kids” movies like INSIDE OUT and ZOOTOPIA have become classics. Kids deserve better, and even they will likely be bored out of their minds by this one.
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