THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE
Directed by Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly
Voiced by Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph
With stints as animators for hit films like Frozen and The Iron Giant behind them, first time directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly took on quite a different task: Create a profitable and engaging film based on a once-popular smartphone app. Where 2014's The LEGO Movie excelled at taking a risky idea and delivering a hilarious and clever product, Kaytis and Reilly's The Angry Birds Movie struggles to find its cleverness amidst a shaky plot and inconsistent humor.
The first half of Angry Birds is the real treat. The characters look similar to their smartphone game counterparts, with Red (Jason Sudeikis) getting top billing as the ultimately angered bird. After run-ins with the law, thanks to an unfortunate birthday clown episode, Red is sent to anger management class where he meets aloof Chuck (Josh Gad) and excitable Bomb (Danny McBride). The class is led by the light-as-a-feather Matilda (Maya Rudolph) and gets, deservedly, some of the film's best laughs.
While the story has to inevitably get to the introduction of the game's enemy pigs, the film would've almost worked fine without that element. Trusting the audience to recognize the friendly characters enough to just enjoy seeing them in their natural element could've been the clever twist to a head-scratching idea that worked for LEGO. Instead, we're given a funny idea and then force-fed an even bigger idea for the second half of the film.
By the time we see the birds join forces to fight the pigs, led by the evil Leonard (Bill Hader), we're overwhelmed with unfunny sequences and a race to new side stories that just get in the way. The whole Mighty Eagle bit, while traced from the beginning, becomes more annoying than heartwarming or encouraging.
The animation has interesting quirks that elevate it some, plus seeing it in 3D is a visual treat, but nothing can save the film from its own devices. While there is a lesson to be learned about personality, bravery, humility, and even friendship, it's so shrouded in hundreds of other attempts at story and humor that it all feels like a big pile of ideas with no ultimate payoff. Less would've definitely been more here.
Kids will get a kick out of the bright colors and family-friendly potty humor. Parents will enjoy the 97 minute break in the air conditioning. The frugal moviegoer will want to wait and get this on Redbox.
Runtime: 97 minutes