REVIEW: ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ lacks game’s replay value

The Angry Birds Movie, unlike the smash hit mobile video game series that inspired it, lacks any sort of addictive quality for anyone above the age of 9. Yes, there’s plenty of things flying, falling and going “boom” for the kids, and lots of clever in-jokes and sight gags for the grown-ups, so the film is not without its merits. It’s a cute, relatively harmless distraction for a little over an hour and a half.

However, whereas the game offered endless moments of “okay, I want to do that again!”, both kids and parents most likely will be okay with just one go around of The Angry Birds Movie. After the first viewing, there’s not a whole lot there worthy of repeating the experience.

What’s it about?

As one might expect, the film expands on the game’s basic premise: green piggies stealing something of great value to the colorful, flightless birds, resulting in a high-flying, slingshot-powered counterattack. The film provides context for the birds’ titular anger, and in particular, the anger of the red bird with the block eyebrows, Red, voiced by Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses, We’re the Millers).

Unlike most of the other super nice and blissfully happy avian residents of his home, Bird Island, Red has a bit of a temper problem. After that temper gets him in trouble for the upteenth time, the island’s Bird Court, presided over by the impressive Judge Peckinpah (Keegan-Michael Key) sentences Red to anger management therapy.

Red therapy group consists of a collection of the island’s other misfits. There’s Chuck (Josh Gad, Pixels, Frozen), who moves and talks too fast for his own good; Bomb (Danny McBride, HBO’s “Eastbound and Down“, This is the End), who suffers from very literal version of Intermittent Explosive Disorder (surprise or startle him, and he go “boom!”); and Terrence (Sean Penn), who, well is quite large for a bird and only communicates in angry growls. The group is presided over by the outwardly peaceful Matilda (Maya Rudolph, Sisters), who wants to help her group overcome their issues just as she overcame hers … mostly.

It’s this group of misfits who must save Bird Island when a ship carrying the piggies, led by Leonard (Bill Hader, Trainwreck), arrive proclaiming a desire for friendship while secretly planning their dastardly heist. While the rest of the trusting happy birds welcome their new “friends”, Red, Chuck, and Bomb work to discover their true plans, leading to the ultimate battle of bird vs. pig.

The Angry Birds Movie one-sheet

Cast lifts middling material

If there’s anything to really recommend about The Angry Birds Movie, it’s the voice cast, which injects life into a bare-bones story and concept. In particular, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, and of all people Peter Dinklage (HBO’s “Game of Thrones“, X-Men: Days of Future Past), who provides the voice of Mighty Eagle, the near-mythical hero and protector of Bird Island, really sound like they’re having fun with their parts.

Sudeikis, while his role is technically the lead, also really gets stuck with the wet blanket/straight man role, and so his work here isn’t as memorable. If anything, his sidekicks Chuck and Bomb and even the relatively guttural and monosyllabic Terrence steal his scenes. Perhaps that’s by design, but if it is, it’s a waste of Sudeikis, who does off-the-wall wacky as well as anyone.

Good for the younger kids

Again, with all the uncontrolled flying, falling, and hitting things on the way down, The Angry Birds Movie has plenty of the sort of frenetic¬†entertainment that should garner plenty of laughs from younger kids. The musical numbers are lively, too, but not to worry: there’s nothing nearly as catchy here as “Everything is Awesome” from 2014’s The Lego Movie, so you won’t find any unwelcome tunes stuck in your or your child’s head when leaving the theater. Demi Lovato’s cover of “I Will Survive” that runs with the end credits may get you singing along for a second or two, but no more.

As for grown-up entertainment value, enjoy all the pig and bird jokes, the references to ham, porkers, and guano (“Okay, maybe it wasn’t ice cream.”), sight gags like a sign at the public bath on Pig Island marked “Hog Wash”, and other such chucklers. There’s no genius at work here, which is maybe the biggest difference between the film and the game. The game, with its simple premise and almost infinite replay value, had real genius behind it.

This film, in comparison, is the equivalent of an add-on to the game that doesn’t quite live up to its cost to download.

The Angry Birds Movie

Starring the voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Sean Penn, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, with Bill Hader and Peter Dinklage. Directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis. Directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis.
Running Time: 97 minutes
Rated PG for rude Humor and action.

Felix Albuerne
Felix Albuerne
One-time Blockbuster Video manager, textbook editor, trivia host, and community college English/Humanities teacher. Now a digital media producer, part-time film critic, amateur foodie, semi-retired beer snob, unabashed geek, and still very much a work in progress.