Sunday, July 03, 2016

'The Angry Birds Movie' Should've Come Out in 2011

The Angry Birds Movie is, obviously, based on the Angry Birds game app.  Set on an island with a community of cheerful, colorful, flightless birds living in it, the story centers on Red (Jason Sudeikis), a bitter bird with a bad temper.  After his latest outburst, he’s sentenced to undergo anger management classes under Matilda (Maya Rudolph), wherein he meets the other social outcasts of the island: the super fast Chuck (Josh Gad), the self-detonating Bomb (Danny McBride), and the huge, grim Terrence (a few lines from Sean Penn).

One day, a ship of green pigs arrives in the island.  The pigs claim to be explorers who seek friendship with the birds, giving them various gifts and entertaining them with shows.  In return, the cordial, naïve birds easily welcome them.  However, the pigs are actually harboring ill intentions, and only the cynical Red is capable of being distrustful of them.  With his own kind dismissing his warnings, it’s up to Red and his band of misfits to figure out what the pigs are really up to and save the other birds.
If you are/were a fan of the game, there’s a lot to be pleased about this movie.  Many elements of the gameplay are utilized in the plot and humor.  And though the focus of the movie is mostly on Red, Chuck, and Bomb, the other game characters have supporting or cameo roles.  There’s something strange about seeing them have wings/arms and legs when they are portrayed as limbless and egg-shaped in the games.  But once you get used to their animated appearance, they’re actually kind of adorable.

That said, this movie feels like a few years too late.  Angry Birds was very big back in 2011 (I should know, since it was the game I played the most that year) and 2012.  If the movie was made and released during those years, it would have been more timely and impactful.  Nowadays, it doesn’t have the pop culture presence that it used to have in its heyday.  Angry Birds as a brand was not able to sustain its huge popularity.  Hence, having an Angry Birds movie in 2016 is pretty much needless.
It also doesn’t help that the film is mediocre.  The animation is good to look at, but the story is predictable and the themes are clichéd.

Also, the humor is surprisingly mature.  I don’t mean “mature” in the way that it’s directly “for adults.”  However, it’s not too subtle and clever in its diluting of sex jokes and profanity to “G” levels either.  They won’t go over the heads of observant, smart kids.  For example, the word “pluck” is obviously being used as substitute for the “F” word, and the meaning of that joke about “laying some eggs tonight” is cringingly clear.

In the end, there’s some fun and laughs to be had from The Angry Birds Movie, especially if you enjoyed playing the game.  And yet, there’s this sense of irrelevance and obsoleteness about it, and it doesn’t have the substance and wit to be an animated movie of note.

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