You’ll known why the birds are so mad after seeing “The Angry Birds Movie.” They’ve been saddled with a thin story, juvenile writing and a look that might be great for flying through the air but otherwise looks a little creepy.
The flying havoc that mimics the popular video game comes after a group of sea-going green pigs pay a visit to the quiet bird community. The only disruption is Red (Jason Sudeikis), a bird with anger management issues, who believes the pigs are up to no good.
The pigs initially appear friendly, a ruse to steal eggs. Quicker than you can say “ham and eggs,” they grab the eggs and head back to their island. The egg-napping is an act of war and Red rallies the birds to respond in the form of being tossed at the walls of the pig castle.
This bird tossing is fun when you send the feathered fowl toward the obstacles while playing the game. But just sitting and watching bird after bird tossed into battle with a sling shot gets old fast.
“Angry Birds” writer Jon Vitti shows none of the wit, sarcasm or fun he displayed as the writer of a couple dozen scripts for “The Simpsons.” There is such a black hole of jokes that the biggest attempt at humor is a long urination bit. Anytime a writer has to resort to bodily functions to get a laugh, there’s a big problem.
And Vitti is so conflicted, the story has no direction. At times it is OK to get angry and at other times it is not condoned. The word angry is in the title, so going politically correct with the script doesn’t work.
The film is yet another example of the waste of casting celebrities as the voices. It’s bad enough that Bill Hader, Danny McBride and Maya Rudolph bring nothing extra to their voice work. But Sean Penn’s Terence rarely speaks. “Angry Birds” is meant to appeal to youngsters. It’s hard to imagine a 6-year-old boy tugging on his father’s pants leg and asking, “Oh, father, can we see the latest Sean Penn movie?”
Sudeikis is OK as Red, but the role would have been stronger with someone who can go from zero to angry in a blink. If it has to be a celebrity, then someone with the emotional elasticity of a Jason Alexander would have been better.
The animation is good. But the limitations come from having to use the characters from the games that are little more than round shapes with feathers. In a movie like “Minions,” the audience embraced the giggling group because they looked and acted funny. Most of the time the birds in this movie just lay an egg.
The makers of “Angry Birds,” including directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, should be worried after seeing the poor box office for “Ratchet and Clank,” another recent release also based on a video game. It suffered from being too late to jump on the game’s popularity. “Angry Birds” is flying into theaters about two years after the craze peaked. It’s lining up to be just another in the long line of movies based on video games that have failed.
“Angry Birds” is loaded with so many problems it would be easy to get mad about wasting your time at the movie. The only saving grace is that it should keep anyone under the age of 6 entertained. Of course, you can do the same thing with the video game.
☆ 1/2 (out of 4)
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Peter Dinklage, Sean Penn, Josh Gad, Bill Hader.
Directors: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Rating: PG (rude humor, language)