The Angry Birds Movie

And now, the repercussions of The LEGO Movie emerge. Sure, we were all pleasantly surprised when the 2014 animated comedy managed to build a vivid and immersive world out of the little figurines that most of us nearly choked to death on in our childhood. But its success immediately led studios to start searching for other similar properties that could then replicate The LEGO Movie’s triumph, even if there was no cinematic potential to them whatsoever.

At the time, Angry Birds was the most popular App in the world, and Rovio Entertainment and Sony Pictures were convinced that its bright, fun and simple gameplay would translate to the big screen. OK, probably not convinced, but they knew there was potential for it to make a bucket-load of money. Which it may.

Set on Bird Island, which is the home to a community of flightless birds, The Angry Birds Movie is led by Red (Jason Sudeikis), a perennially apoplectic bird, who has been shunned by his neighbors, and has decided to live on outskirts of town. Yet another furious and violent outburst leads Red to be sentenced to anger management classes, where he meets the speedy but chatty Chuck (Josh Gad), gentle but explosive Bomb (Danny McBride), and humungous but monosyllabic Terence (Sean Penn). But while the unexpected arrival of a large boat to Bird Island causes excitement amongst the other inhabitants, Red is immediately, and rightfully, suspicious, and soon sets out to prove they’re up to no good.

The problem with The Angry Birds Movie is that it’s all bright, dumb, slightly impressive visuals and no depth. Its plot and characters have all been ripped straight from the myriad of different animated films that have populated cinemas over the last decade, and you’ll have instantly moved on to more profound thoughts and entertainment as soon as your derriere has lifted from the multiplex chair.

But during its 97-minute running time, there was still just about enough to charm me, while the juveniles around me were all completely enraptured by the mindless and energetic antics that unfolded. I could practically hear them pleading with their parents for Red, Bomb, and Chuck toys already. And that’s what Sony and Rovio will be relying on.

But while The Angry Birds Movie plays like a blatant cash-in, it almost feels pointless to examine it on its cinematic merits. Especially when, in the same animated genre, rivals such as Zootopia and Inside Out have both managed to excel critically and financially, which only underlines how dumb-downed, vapid and lazy Birds is. Especially for adults, who will find very little to enjoy in The Angry Birds Movie. While the first sight of a bird pun will no doubt make you smirk, by the end of the film, you’ll have seen so many lame and awful attempts at word play that they’ll have lost all sense and meaning.

One or two jokes land, but not even the terrific comedic vocal cast of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon, Sean Penn, Tony Hale, Tituss Burgess, Billy Eichner, Hannibal Buress, Ike Barinholtz, and Jillian Bell can't provide consistent laughs thanks to a lackluster script.

Thankfully, after a laborious and predictable set-up, The Angry Birds Movie’s conclusion provides some much needed chaos and energetic action that actually manages to mirror the App. At the same time, it’s also surprisingly touching, and it even includes two Quicksilver and The Shining jokes that are the funniest of the film... which is just enough to stop The Angry Birds Movie from being a total dud.

But, annoyingly, an Angry Birds sequel and potential franchise is immediately teased in the credits, which highlights the number one reason why it was made. And even though there’s clearly not enough substance to the world, characters, or plot to warrant a follow up, if it grosses enough, Sony and Rovio will depressingly find a way to tell another story.

Gregory Wakeman