Animation is a fascinating medium of storytelling because of its collaborative and time-consuming nature. Numerous animators, artists, writers and directors spend years working on one project, challenging one another to tell the best story possible. Although not every animated film is perfect, they all usually have heart. It is incredibly difficult to take that out of a film that takes so much effort to create.
Somehow, The Angry Birds Movie manages to do it.
Knowing so many minds worked together on this project, it is hard to decipher why the film is so weak. The cynical side of me believes that this film was made to make money, not tell a good story. A kinder, more naïve side of me blames bad luck. Both agree that I should demand a refund.
Based on the popular mobile game Angry Birds, the film takes place on Bird Island, the home of flightless birds. One day, the island is visited by a boat full of pigs. Most of the island welcomes the pigs, except for one. Red (Jason Sudeikis), a bird with anger issues, doesn’t trust them. When the pigs steal all of the island’s eggs, it is up to Red to lead the other birds into war with the pigs.
The basic premise sounds like the crazy, stupid fun only animated films can pull off. Yet, the film forces audiences to wait until the third act for the inevitable clash. This wouldn’t be an issue if the film filled up the first two acts with character development and funny hijinks. It offers none of those things.
Red is unlikable and doesn’t change throughout the film. The only birds that are entertaining to watch are Chuck (Josh Gad) and Bomb (Danny McBride) but because Red is the protagonist, not enough time is spent with them. Every other character is forgettable, even the villainous pigs. Audiences will not be invested in any of them and that is due to lazy writing. Intelligent storytelling is being able to incorporate current issues into a story in order to add depth to a seemingly commercialized product. The film could have dealt with interesting issues like imperialism or immigration. Instead, it relies on clichés and toilet humor.
Acclaimed family films, animated or live action, understand that there are two types of filmgoers: the child and the adult. They are great sources for entertainment because they are entertaining for all ages. The Angry Birds Movie does not try to be clever. The humor is so utterly juvenile that most adults will be bored throughout the film. This leads me to one of the most frustrating aspects about The Angry Birds Movie: the waste of its unbelievably talented voice cast. With the likes of Jason Sudeikis, Danny McBride, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph and Bill Hader, it should have audiences roaring with laughter.
The only positive thing about The Angry Birds Movie is that it is gorgeous to look at. The colorful animation is vibrant and can only be truly appreciated on the largest screen available. If only the film were worth the price of admission. Do yourself and/or your child a favor and just watch Zootopia again. Heck, any other animated film of the past three decades will do.
The Angry Birds Movie was released May 20, 2016.