Sunday, June 05, 2016

The Angry Birds Movie - nosedive!

movie review

The Angry Birds Movie falls short of delivering anything noteworthy

The Angry Birds Movie

Voice cast: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Sean Penn, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Bill Hader, and Peter Dinklage
Directed by: Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly 
Tagline: Why so angry?

The smartphone era has bestowed us with an infinite supply of timewasters, but few of these digital offerings have been nearly as successful as Angry Birds. The massively popular video game – that involves slinging multicoloured birds at green pigs sheltered by various structures – has developed into a lucrative franchise and turned into a pop culture phenomenon, and, has now, inevitably, spawned an animated film.

Expanding on the premise of the game, The Angry Birds Movie sheds light on how the rivalry between the birds and the pigs started.

The film’s reluctant hero is Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), a grumpy outcast who doesn’t get along with the other residents of Bird Island, a community of happy-go-lucky flightless birds. Following a rage episode at a child’s birthday party, a court orders Red to take anger management classes, which are run by the neurotic Matilda (Maya Rudolph) and attended by speedster Chuck (Josh Gad), explosive Bomb (Danny McBride), and giant Terence (Sean Penn). But their therapy session is interrupted one day, when a boat carrying a group of green pigs, led by the bearded Leonard (Bill Hader), arrives at the island. The birds welcome the newcomers and treat them as their honoured guests, but Red is suspicious of the explorers who hail from Piggy Island. When no one pays heed to his warnings, he sets out to find out what the pigs are really up to. With Chuck and Bomb’s help, Red must uncover the pigs’ nefarious plan and save the bird community, using the very attributes that initially made him a pariah.

Things unfold in a fairly obvious way, what with the story being derived from the gameplay of the popular app, but the film’s predictability may not have been as noticeable had there been more to the story; the premise could have still led to an interesting adventures if the pieces had been put together in a refreshing, innovative way. Instead, the whole thing feels forced and unsurprising.

The movie, which marks the directorial debut of Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, tries to be funny by offering silly visual gags for kids and innuendo-laden references directed at adults, but rarely delivers any memorable quips or chuckles. Screenwriter Jon Vitti’s script simply isn’t amusing enough. The filmmakers squander their impressive line-up of comedic voice talent who can’t do much with bad puns and lazy humour.

The soundtrack choices too seem odd. A dull song by Blake Shelton (who voices pig Earl in the movie) is shoehorned into the proceedings, and Limp Bizkit’s cover of the Who’s ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ is just distractingly out of place.

The Angry Birds Movie’s worst aspect, however, is that it doesn’t leave you with a message of love and acceptance. In its effort to validate the emotion of anger (à la Inside Out), the project ends up encouraging being suspicious of those who are different from you. In an environment where people are already wary of refugees who end up on foreign shores seeking safe haven, further lessons in the mistrust of immigrants is the last thing the world needs.

Ultimately, The Angry Birds Movie comes off as lazy and unpolished, and makes you wish that it had left young viewers with a message of acceptance, not distrust and destruction.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

- Sameen Amer

Hi Five, The Express Tribune - 5th June, 2016

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