Written by Jon Vitti
Directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly
Starring Peter Dinklage, Jason Sudekis, Kate McKinnon, Danny McBride, Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Sean Penn, Bill Hader, Keegan Michael-Key and more
Grade: One star
I'm still confused as to why "Angry Birds" is being made into a movie now.
Any time between 2010 and, say, 2012, it would have made perfect sense. The game was iconic, seemingly being played by everyone who owned an electronic device, and spinning that kind of momentum into a full-fledged movie would have been the logical next step. Even if it hadn't been very good, it would have been forgivable.
But now? Yes, the game is still being played, but it's slipped to #39 on Google Play's top free games. The official sequel – which was released in 2015 and is different from the dozens of spinoffs, apparently – is #34. Unless you're a specific fan of the games, you probably no longer have more than a casual knowledge of the Angry Birds universe, and probably no more than a casual interest.
If that's true, then actually watching the "Angry Birds" movie isn't going to change your mind. Despite surprisingly gorgeous animation, the movie is the cartoon equivalent of a profoundly mediocre sitcom, the kind where maybe one joke out of every five or six episodes is actually mildly humorous but it's not quite bad enough to make you gouge out your own eyes.
The references to the video games are surprisingly well thought out, but you'll only notice them if you've played the games at some point in the last year or so. Since they're a big portion of the movie's cleverness and nuance, without them all you're left with is the sitcom.
Since the games themselves have no plot, the movie has expanded the game's concept to create an island of flightless birds who are supposedly constantly full of happy, special community feelings for one another. The only person who can't get with the program is Red, an angry social outcast and main protagonist of the movie, to the point that the other two guys in his anger management classes seem to be there more because they're "not normal" than because they're actually angry.
By the end of the movie, of course, both Red and the town as a whole will learn Valuable Life Lessons (TM), though the basic structure of the game also means we also have to spend an unfortunate amount of time contemplating the idea that living babies will be eaten because they're "delicious."
While you can safely not think about why the pigs are so excited to get bird eggs when you're playing the game, here it's impossible to avoid. Worse, here we know they're sentient.
Mostly, though, the tone is straight out of a sitcom. Though there's an extended pee joke that only very small children could love, more than 90 percent of the jokes in the movie are aimed squarely at adults in the audience. This includes a jab at gluten-free food that pretty much amounts to "Is it even a real thing?" and a reference to a white splat that was implied to be what I hope is bird poop but could easily be something a little more ... adult. Hopefully, the kids won't understand any of it but the peeing.
The best part of the movie is the animation, the cartoonish-looking birds all possessing luxuriant-looking feathers that look as soft and float as delicately as the real thing. The colors are vibrant, the lines are crisp, and both the bird and pig cities are full of charming little visual details.
Sadly, the movie itself doesn't contain the same charm. Unless you're a big fan of the games, give this one a pass.