Making a movie that works for all ages is a bit of a tightwire act. In order to make a movie that’s suitable for children, there is a lot of material that you generally have to remove. At the same time, adults are the ones taking these children to the theater, and it’s important for a successful movie to work for them too. This means crafting jokes in such a way that the kids don’t quite catch the jokes that are meant for their parents. The Angry Birds Movie has a moment like this, where Jason Sudeikis’ character makes a "nuts" reference, except he not talking about those nuts, unless he is.
Last month I got to spend some time with a few of the stars of the The Angry Birds Movie, including Jason Sudeikis and Maya Rudolph. At one point during the interview, Sudeikis was asked about how some of the movie’s more adult humor might impact the younger viewers. The voice of Red said that he thought the film did a good job of sending those lines right over the heads of children, and brought up one specific example.
I feel like they wouldn’t get it, like there’s little things like, you know, like you know, "Drop your nuts and move your butts," is one of my lines, so it’s funny, and then when you cut away to the people literally eating nuts, you’re like, ok, yeah.
It’s a very well played moment in The Angry Birds Movie. Red has taken a bit of control over his fellow birds and has started barking orders at them. This leads to him telling a couple of birds to "drop their nuts." The comedic beat that follows is probably a little too long. It’s long enough that as I watched the movie, I thought they were going to just leave it there, and I was shocked that a line like that was in a movie that was otherwise very kid friendly. It’s only then that the camera pans over to a pair of birds who are actually snacking on nuts. For younger audiences, the line has no other meaning, but for those who are old enough to get it, you get two jokes for the price of one.
Co-star Maya Rudolph understands that if a "kid’s movie" really only has material in it for kids, they’re missing out on a large portion of their potential audience. She tells us:
Personally, I think that’s what gets the adults in the movie. If you have to sit through this movie with your children, there has to be some type of, you know, adult humor.
Just because a movie may be geared toward children doesn’t mean they should be the only ones enjoying it. The Angry Birds Movie will be out for everybody to enjoy on Friday.