Apologies first for not showing the home release cover, but it seems to be a hard one to track down in searches. But more to the point… this was SO CLOSE to being so good. Looking at that poster above you’d never in a million years think that. And yet it was so on-track to success. So where did it all fall apart? Well, let me explain…
The movie doesn’t have so much to do with the game which was just honestly a time-waster, but it uses the characters and basic story. Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) is the kind of bird you can relate to. He hates socialising, is mad at everyone, and just wants to be by himself. So as far as animated characters go, you’ll side with him straight away. But the rest of the island’s bird inhabitants are a bit sick of his ways, and Anger Management classes don’t seem to help either. The a group of… green pigs? – land on the island and win everyone except Red over. But he knows they must be up to no good, and set out to discover what their actual plans are.
Now, take the whole pig thing out of the equation for a bit, and instead focus on the opening act – where the attention is on Red and just following him around on his travels. You have to trust me on this but it was really funny. Not just on a “I’m handing out petty-credit” level. No, it was genuinely funny! The backstabbing, give-no-shits sense to the humour is refreshing to see in a kid’s film, the main character isn’t someone who’s looking for redemption or something greater than their small lives. He’s just a normal, pissed off bird, if that is possible. His two pals Chuck (Josh Gad) and Bomb (Danny McBride) work very well too, with Chuck having one particular flashback moment that had me in stitches. It was the level of comedy that a Disney film might reach once or twice during one of their own films, it was that damm good. Even the Anger Management teacher (Maya Rudolph) is funny in the sense that she’s almost as nuts as the rest of them, except she’s forcing herself to smile through it all. This area of the movie goes so beyond the expectations you set for it that it is properly entertaining. I was actually kind of loving it.
And then…. the pigs arrive to the island, and the script seems to go down the toilet from there. The introduction of a forced direction for the narrative just brings the witty sense of humour to a grinding halt. Instead you have to endure piss jokes, butt jokes, bad puns, obscene foreshadowing to the plot that even a two year old could see coming, and very little payoff. There are no other characters introduced that are even remotely as interesting as near the start, and it baffles me as to why the comedy took such a nose-dive. Sure, some of it is scattered here and there through the rest of the acts, but not to the same frequency as before. It’s all just very plain and ordinary, forcing the use of aspects from the video game when it was getting on just fine without trying that at all.
I will give credit to the animation, which does look fairly good. Especially the water which looked excellent. It’s all colourful enough to cover up any issues and was probably more than this franchise deserved, going in with that title. And as brought up before, the main three characters are very likeable. I loved Chuck’s cocaine-fast light-speed talk and movement. I liked Bomb’s silly design and small reactions. And Red is just such a refreshingly angry character that you have to like for that reason. No grand dreams to reach here, he’s just pissed off.
The same can’t be said for the score, which cuts in with too many modern songs and dances to make even worth trying to offer points to. The same goes to the references which I won’t even bother bringing up.
And still, I have to take into consideration that my expectations for this at the beginning were so low, they were pretty much non-existent. I mean, video games have never translated well to the big screen, and trying to do that with a silly mobile game sounded like suicide. But even with most of it hitting tone-deaf and dull notes, there was still those bits that were so good. As far as introducing us to our three main characters, it nailed it. As mediocre as everything was around them, I still liked seeing them together throughout the film.
And this was what the saving grace was for “The Angry Birds Movie” was. I don’t see many people remembering it after a year – hell, I’ll probably forget about it too. But it managed to turn some incredibly low expectations into something that was so much better than I could ever have foreseen. Maybe this was an early script that only a portion of was kept, or just a fluke. But hey, I have to offer credit where credit is due. And even though there’s a lot here that will bore your pants off, there’s still those moments that were exceptionally good. So….. ahh fuck it, it deserves this rating. I’m not embarrassed about it.
(6/10) – Yes, that is a six!
Thanks for reading!