Movies based on video games continue to earn their wretched reputation, and I’m afraid The Angry Birds Movie won’t do anything to change that. This animated film is, of course, based on the highly popular and enormously enjoyable video game that has spun off myriad sequels to diminishing returns. The movie turns out to be like those sequel games, loud and brightly colored enough to deceive a small child into thinking it’s fun but not offering much to the grown-ups who got hooked on the game.
The story is set on an island of flightless birds, where social outcast Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) snaps one too many times at his fellow avians and is sentenced to anger management classes, where he meets other birds with the same problem, yellow speed-addict Chuck (voiced by Josh Gad), black explosive Bomb (voiced by Danny McBride), and extra-large mute Terence (growled by Sean Penn). When a green pig (voiced by Bill Hader) lands on the island’s shore bearing a message of friendship, the birds embrace him and his kind, but Red and his angry friends suspect correctly that the new visitors are just a filthy horde of immigrants who are out to steal their stuff.
Oh, yeah. The movie goes there. That’s not the only issue, though. At a bare minimum, you’d expect the script to try to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy anger, but screenwriter Jon Vitti (who also wrote the first two Alvin and the Chipmunks movies) doesn’t see the need to bother. Anyway, Sudeikis is too phlegmatic to play a rage case, talented comic actor though he is. The action sequences devised by directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly are entirely forgettable, even the expected climactic one in which the birds use a giant slingshot and some trampolines to reach the pigs’ island and get their eggs back.
Worst of all is that this movie isn’t funny. You’d think that voice actors like Maya Rudolph, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate McKinnon, Hannibal Buress, Ike Barinholtz, Tony Hale, and Jillian Bell would deliver a couple of memorable lines apiece, but, amazingly, they all come up empty. Peter Dinklage at least manages to create a character who’s better than his material as a legendary hero of a flying bird who, in the flesh, turns out to be a gone-to-seed egomaniac strumming a guitar and singing songs about his own awesomeness. Still, the only time I laughed out loud was during Chuck’s hilariously insensitive reaction to the loss of all the eggs on the island. The filmmakers undoubtedly know that the video game’s popularity will automatically pull in an audience, so apparently they’ve decided they don’t have to work to make a good movie to have a hit on their hands. Maybe they’re right, but the careless, thrown-together nature of The Angry Birds Movieis enough to make me want to fling missiles at some pig’s house.
[box_info]The Angry Birds Movie
Voices by Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, and Danny McBride. Directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly. Written by Jon Vitti. Rated PG.[/box_info]