“Angry Birds” stopped being culturally relevant about three years ago.
I just want to make that clear, because I haven’t heard anybody talk about it since around 2012 when Candy Crush took over people’s lives.
Since it’s arrival in December of 2009, “Angry Birds” has gone from that game you played on the toilet, to a cultural phenomenon that spawned sequels and spinoffs. It eventually grounded itself in the kid’s market and was soon plastered on t-shirts and backpacks.
So I feel compelled to ask the question that plagued me during “The Angry Birds Movie:” is this relevant?
Look, I loved “Angry Birds.” It was a fun game…half a decade ago. But now it seems like a shameless cash-grab. Rovio, the film’s producer, unleashes a movie so full of dated humor and references that it feels like they made this movie in the game’s heyday and just waited to dump it on audiences once the app needed a boost in popularity.
It isn’t that Rovio doesn’t have much to work with, what with about a dozen games, comics and toys under their wings; it’s that they have all of that and they still manage to make a movie that feels lazy by today’s standards. The 98-minute run-time zooms seem to have forgotten that they were writing a feature-length movie, and not some straight-to-dvd film or Nickelodeon special (which it honestly should have been.) Halfway through, there seems to be a moment where the screenwriters went, “Oh, this just isn’t good at all,” and proceed to finish the movie as fast as possible.
In a story that is as simple and predictable as any of its kind, Red (Jason Sudeikis), the angriest bird on Bird Island (a place where birds cannot fly), lives as an outcast from the rest of society. The plot has an obvious arc that reveals itself once the pigs attack. The weak motive behind the attack is further evidence that the screenwriters had no concern for originality.
Groan-worthy wordplay (“Home Tweet Home,” “Egg-celent”) and eye-rolling puns make up the film’s childish humor, which leaves much to be wanted on the adult end unless you account for the singular “The Shining” reference and a “50 Shades of ‘Green’” prop joke.
With the exception of the scene-stealing Chuck (Josh Gad), the yellow bird from the game who essentially serves as this film’s equivalent of “X-Men’s” Quicksilver (there’s even a reference to “Days of Future Past”), many of the characters are boring and stagnant. It’s a shame since the cast features brilliant actors like Peter Dinklage, Maya Rudolph, Sean Penn and Bill Hader; actors whose talent feels wasted by the film’s childish humor.
As far as kids movies go, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about making them. In the last four years alone, audiences have been treated to “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Zootopia” and “The Lego Movie”—three films that are beautifully crafted and feature expansive worlds capable of entertaining both adults and children—“The Angry Birds Movie” doesn’t hold a candle to them in terms of originality or creativity. Sure, there is some beautiful animation and a brief—but humorous scene—where the birds finally retaliate with slingshot and all, but that isn’t enough to save the film when it is compared to other modern kid’s films.
Wordplay and puns just don’t cut it, and the film’s tired message of “fitting in” is dull when it is literally the exact same theme of the aforementioned animated films. With so much potential to soar, “The Angry Birds Movie” can’t seem to find a way to get off the ground.
Scott may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Johnson is a senior Film Studies and Journalism double major. You can follow him on Twitter @scott7893 and find more of his reviews at RagingFilm.com