No wonder people always accuse Hollywood of running out of ideas.
Sony Pictures and Rovio Entertainment are set to release the animated feature, The Angry Birds Movie, this Friday. Angry Birds is an app that is wildly popular. While there is no denying the addictive nature of the game, one has to question how a full-length feature film is born from a game with little to no backstory? With a game like Assassins Creed, there is at least a background story in that game which provides plenty of source material for the screenwriters. In Angry Birds, a bunch of greedy pigs are trying to steal the eggs of these birds. How does that translate into a 97 minutes animated feature film? Perhaps proper storytelling?
Unfortunately, the only thing proper about this story telling is it has a beginning, middle, and an end. Joe Vitti, a writer on The Simpsons, constructed an origin story that concentrates more on being witty and less on being entertaining. Vitti has countless scenes filled with pop culture references and inside jokes but nothing that even approaches being funny. On The Simpsons, the backstory has long been established so he can write those edgy pop culture references in certain scenes. It is as if Rovio Entertainment hired Joe Vitti and said: “Okay here’s our app, now make it into a movie.” So instead of slaving away and constructing some acceptable narrative, he just crowbarred the exact premise of the app into the film. Why even make this movie?
A positive note could take from this film is the top-flight voice talent assembled. Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny Mcbride, Bill Hader, Tony Hale, Kate McKinnon, Hannibal Burress, and Maya Rudolph all have voice characters in The Angry Birds Movie. What’s confounding to is that they are not even allowed to spread their comedic wings. Vitti has created characters that are entirely one dimensional and don’t afford these gifted actors an opportunity to use their talents. Imagine if Robin Williams was told to stick to the script in Aladdin and not allowed to use his talents? Part of what provides these animated characters their depth is the actors performances, without this performance, then these characters are nothing but flat.
The animators attempt to provide that missing depth in the overall look of these birds. Each of the birds are different size spherical shapes, they have expressive eyes, and possess different feather textures which provide more characterization than any performance in this film. They attempt to get ramp up the creativity by experimenting with 2-D and time lapse stylings, but the attempt ends up being more of a distraction than anything that would add to the film.
Then, of course, there is an endless number of pop culture references shoved into this story. While Red (Jason Sudeikis) is running around in the Pig Castle looking for the missing eggs, he opens a door to a corridor, and two twin pigs respond with “redrum.” While trying to escape the castle they see a book belonging to King Mudbeard (Bill Hader) entitled ’50 Shades Of Ham.’ Are these references meant for kids? What’s the point of even including them in this animated feature?
Sometimes when a film tries to be too funny, it completely misses the mark.