As Hollywood has continued to scour other forms of media for their ideas, video games have become a new refuge. As video games themselves have become more cinematic and story driven it makes sense that you may be able to make a good movie out of them. Games like Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft will be making their bow in 2016, but they’ll be accompanied by a strange bedfellow, the Angry Birds.
The Angry Birds Movie is the latest movie distributed by Sony’s animation division, the studio behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was a surprisingly good film that took a children’s book that didn’t have much of a plot, and built a compelling story without losing any of the components that made the original unique. Now, they will try to make lightning strike twice when they take one of the simplest games on the market, with essentially no plot whatever, and do their best to turn it into an equally good feature film. Will they do it? We will discover the answer when The Angry Birds Movie hits theaters this summer. Here’s everything we know so far about the movie.
What Is The Angry Birds Release Date?Angry Birds will be getting a jump start on the summer movie blockbuster season with a May 20 release date. Also opening that weekend are the Russell Crowe/Ryan Gosling starrer The Nice Guys and the Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Neither is trying to capture the audience that Angry Birds is shooting for, so it’s unlikely that either film will take away from the numbers that the animated comedy is hoping for.
What Is The Angry Birds Rating?Another thing that points toward the audience of Angry Birds not overlapping so much with other films debuting in May is the rating. While the month will see a host of PG-13 films, like Captain America: Civil War and R rated movies, Angry Birds managed to stick the landing on getting a PG rating. In addition, the Angry Birds rating will see the film compete for an audience with only three other movies that debut in May, Pelé and Dark Horse, which are both smaller films based on true stories, which will have had their releases already, and Alice Through the Looking Glass, the Alice in Wonderland sequel. Only Alice has any real hope of taking viewers away from Angry Birds, but since the film opens a week later, there will still be plenty of time for Angry Birds to rack up a good amount of box office dollars.
The GameThe thing that makes the Angry Birds mobile game so popular and addicting is exactly the same thing that makes it an odd choice for a movie. It’s not very complicated, and it has no specific beginning or end. It’s designed to be a game that you pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, and then put down and forget about, until you pick it up again some time later. There’s not much there. Still, game developer Rovio has turned the Angry Birds brand into a multi-million dollar enterprise that has expanded from a single game into numerous licensed versions as well as a cartoon, and now a movie.
The basic game is simple. Fire different birds out of a slingshot in order to knock down structures inhabited by green piggies. Each bird has different abilities that affect their trajectory and impact. If you take down all the pigs, you move on to the next level and do it again. That’s pretty much it. How will the gameplay translate into a movie? We know a few of the answers.
The StoryThe movie will take place on an island inhabited entirely by flightless birds. All of the birds you recognize from the game, and several new editions, live together in this home. Not all the birds are so angry, though. In fact, only the three lead characters of Red, Chuck, and Bomb are undergoing anger management courses. The rest of the birds are very friendly and accommodating. So much so that when a shipful of pigs invades the island, the rest of the birds welcome them with open arms. Only our three Angry Birds suspect that there might be something going on. As we’ve played the game, we assume it has something to do with pigs trying to get their hands on eggs. We also know that when the pigs arrive they will bring several new inventions the birds have never seen before, and one of them is a slingshot.
Ultimately, according to star Jason Sudeikis, the movie is about how anger shouldn’t be a taboo emotion. It’s good to let your feelings out now and then; keeping them bottled up doesn’t help anybody. All in all, it seems to be a fairly solid basis for a movie considering what they started with. At best, it could make for an interesting companion to Pixar's Inside Out.
The WriterThe Angry Birds Movie has been written by Jon Vitti. Originally Vitti was on board to direct as well, but that changed somewhere near the end of 2013. This movie has been in production for a while. Vitti is credited with writing for several TV series over the years including Saturday Night Live, The Larry Sanders Show, and, most notably, The Simpsons. On the cinematic side of things, he was part of the team that wrote The Simpsons Movie as well as Alvin and the Chipmunks and it’s follow-up The Squeakqual. The Angry Birds Movie is the first film where Vitti is credited as the sole writer, so we’ll certainly get a chance to see what he’s made of as a screenwriter.
Interestingly, one of the areas where Jon Vitti seems to be a strong writer is when it comes to music. He’s credited as the writer for both "The Monorail Song" and "Spider-Pig" from The Simpsons, and, as we know that there will be at least one song in The Angry Birds Movie it could turn out to be a highlight.
The DirectorsMuch like The Angry Birds Movie is the first time out for writer Jon Vitti, it’s also the first directorial effort for a pair of animators. Angry Birds is being co-directed by the team of Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly. Clay Kaytis is a former Disney animator whose credits include Frozen, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph. Fergal Reilly is a storyboard artist with a history on films like The Iron Giant and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. While both men have extensive animation experience, the fact that this is the directorial debut for both could give the impression that The Angry Birds Movie is either a low priority, or low budget, endeavor for Sony.
However, great directors have to start somewhere. When Fergal Reilly worked on Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs it was under first-time feature directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The pair have since gone on to direct standouts 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie, and will soon be directing the Han Solo movie for Disney. No reason to believe that something like that couldn’t begin here.
RedOur lead Angry Bird is Red. He’s...well...the red one. Voiced by Jason Sudeikis, Red looks to be the defacto leader of our team of frustrated heroes. Throughout the existing trailers, he seems to be the angriest of the birds. Honestly, for a film called The Angry Birds Movie he’s the only one who truly looks to be angry. He snaps at people, picks fights with inanimate objects and straight up punts a kid who won't stop kicking a soccer ball against his home. To be fair, Red appears to have come by his anger honestly. The other kids in school made fun of him and he’s never had any luck in love. It has not been an easy life for the guy. We assume these are skills that will eventually serve him well when it comes time to take on the pigs. Jason Sudeikis has said he took inspiration from, of all places, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, at least as far as the idea that Red feels he is the one sane bird on an island full of morons. He sees that this place has a serious problem, and can’t understand why nobody else does.
ChuckChuck is the yellow bird whose name, we assume, is a reference to what you do with him in the game. Chuck will be voiced by Josh Gad of Olaf the Snowman fame. The two characters do appear to have a lot in common, beyond the fact that they sound the same. Chuck doesn’t seem angry so much as goofy. Chuck will also be singing at some point in the movie. It’s apparently part of the deal.
The key difference between Olaf and Chuck is that Chuck runs at much higher RPMs than the Frozen snowman. Josh Gad used a childhood acquaintance who had a tendency to never stop talking, as inspiration. Based on the description, it sounds like Chuck speaks faster than he thinks, which we would expect is a trait that gets him in trouble much of the time.
Josh Gad is an unapologetic Angry Birds addict. Whether that gives him an advantage over his co-stars is unclear. Although, he’s apparently the only chief actor who hasn’t been called back to re-record dialogue, which could be a testament to his skill as a voice actor, or to the level that his addiction helped him create his character.
BombBomb is big, black, and explosive. He comes across as fairly meek at first but Bomb apparently has something of a short fuse. When he gets excited, startled, or angry, he literally explodes. While this seems to have little impact on him, it does serious damage to the surrounding environment. Bomb will be voiced by Danny McBride of HBO’s Eastbound and Down.
Of the three main Angry Birds, Bomb is one of the characters that we know the least about. He’s not been featured prominently in any of the trailers. This could simply be a coincidence. Or, it could be because the character is of key importance, and they don’t want to give away too much about who Bomb is. Regardless, McBride's style of humor is such that we expect him to be a very different bird that the rest. Also, with many explosions to (possibly) apologize for, we're expecting several fart jokes.
LeonardLeonard is the lead pig in The Angry Birds Movie and will be voiced by Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader. Very little is known for sure about what the pigs are up to, but since they are the "bad guys" of the Angry Birds world we assume it’s no good.
Apparently, the original inspiration for the character of Leonard was supposed to be Robert Preston’s performance in The Music Man but after one recording session, the directors decided to try a different direction. It’s not clear if they decided the character needed a shift, or if they didn’t like Bill Hader’s impression of Professor Harold Hill. Either way, Hader now calls the role a "Hee-Haw Music Man." What this almost certainly does confirm is that Leonard is a conman and a huckster. Whatever his story; it’s a lie. But, the majority of the island will swallow it hook, line, and sinker.
MatildaMatilda is one of the major Angry Birds characters, but we don't know that much about her. She's featured prominently on the Angry Birds Movie website, which would imply she's important, but we have only the briefest glimpse of her in the trailer. She’s the leader of the anger management course that the rest of the angry birds are part of. Reportedly, Matilda is a former angry bird herself, who has been able to get her aggression under control. We expect that will change when it comes time for the Angry Birds to take the action to the pigs, and start launching themselves out of slingshots. Matilda will be voiced by another SNL cast veteran, Maya Rudolph, who was most recently seen alongside Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in the comedy Sisters.
The Rest of the CastWhile the names we've gone over would make for a great cast for any comedy, it only scratches the surface of the voices you will hear in The Angry Birds Movie. Country singer and The Voice judge Blake Shelton will be the voice of another of the pigs, named Earl. Peter Dinklage will be Mighty Eagle, a mythical bird that our heroes go in search of for help against the pigs. Kate McKinnon will take on the role of Stella, a young bird who likes to blow bubbles in the game. It will be the second time we hear from her this summer as Angry Birds will hit theaters just before the Ghostbusters reboot, in which she stars. Additional comedians like Hannibal Buress and Keegan Michael Key will also be lending their voices to the animated film. Also, in a truly wild casting choice, super-serious actor Sean Penn was revealed to be a part of the cast about a month ago. See that giant red bird off to the left in the above picture? That's Penn's character, Terence, who, apparently, only speaks in grunts and growls. Perfect, I say. The voice cast looks to be a who’s who of the comedy world (and Sean Penn), which will hopefully translate into one of the funniest movies of the summer.