Monday, August 29, 2016

The Angry Birds Movie (2016)

Film: The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon, Sean Penn
Director: Clay Kaytis and Feral Reilly
Oscar History: No nominations
Snap Judgment Ranking: 2/5 stars

We have a plethora of film reviews to get through as a week off from writing didn't entail me a week off from the movies (quite the contrary, as it turns out), so I'm not entirely certain why I'm starting here as I trek through eleven movies, but whatever-let's make The Angry Birds Movie happen.  Yes, after spending much of my subway rides many years ago playing nothing but this game on my phone (I was really good, and had three stars on a plethora of levels) I decided that it was worth one of those random Netflix rentals you occasionally do to investigate the movie, which made a gallon of money (as was not expected) and won few plaudits (which was much more anticipated).

(Spoilers Ahead) The film centers around Red (Sudeikis), who is appropriately the signature red bird from the original game, who is a loner and is, through accidentally hatching an egg, brought to anger management with Chuck (Gad) and Bomb (McBride), the yellow and black birds from the game, respectively.  The film follows them as they try to prove that they can control their anger (or that anger can come in handy), and that the new, sly-talking pigs, headed by Leonard (Hader), have more nefarious purposes than just helping the birds.

You see where this is going, of course.  The birds have their eggs stolen by the hungry pigs, and led by the Angry Birds, the characters get angry and save their eggs.  Rovio is careful to both make the film completely outside of the initial game (you don't need to have ever picked up an iPad to be able to know the plot of this movie), while also borrowing heavily from the initial game's roster of characters for fans, which it's worth noting is relatively thin in terms of character dynamics, to create the cast lineup.  Every single bird that you remember from the games is there, including two voiced in a nice twist by Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla from the YouTube comedy show Smosh.  The film even brings back the Mighty Eagle, one of those things that was introduced to disrupt game play and keep you from getting stuck too long on the same level (like I said, every single subway ride was spent once I went below ground on this game, so I know it well).

Nostalgia for something that was a time-killing fancy five years ago, though, only goes so far and the rest of the story is relatively thin.  The film is one of those movies that can't find the balance between appealing to the children of the audience and the parents that brought them, and as a result satisfies neither.  The humor, whenever it approaches wit, is thrown aside with comic sight gags involving flatulence or urine (in a gross scene involving the "Mighty Eagle") and even comic stars like Josh Gad and Bill Hader, both well-suited for the world of animated vocals, can't really find much identity to the characters.  The film also vastly underuses Sean Penn, in what could have been a funny play on his offscreen personality (considering that he's frequently angry), but the two-time Oscar winner is wasted as a near silent, giant magenta bird who doesn't even play on Penn's real-life persona, despite him being the most famous person in the cast.

All-in-all, while it's fun to see them trot out different characters and occasionally some of the music works, the movie itself is a chore.  Pixar may be struggling these days, but it's not yet approaching this level of commercialization without the cute.  The Angry Birds Movie is essentially The Lego Movie...if The Lego Movie wasn't any good.

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