Sunday, May 29, 2016

'The Angry Birds Movie' review

In The Angry Birds Movie, the main character is Red, played by Jason Sudeikis. Red, as the title of the film would imply, is a very angry bird. He spends most of the film making meta-commentary on the stupidity of everything around him and occasionally blowing up and yelling at people. Some of the film's best material comes from Red, but there's actually a really interesting thing that happens with the character. Basically, Red and his smug jokes were the only things I could relate to in this insipid, frenetic, absolutely unfunny animated comedy. The Angry Birds Movie is just as awful as you would probably expect, a desperately empty movie that essentially operates as an extended, more shamelessly corporate version of the game's story. Pop culture references run amok, light social jabs are everywhere and real character and plot development is virtually nonexistent. The Angry Birds Movie lands a few funny jokes, but it's just a soul-sucking journey.

So what is this movie about actually? Well, if you've played the game, just imagine the opening scene of the game for 45 minutes, and then another 45 minutes of the actual game. Nothing else. That's about it. But for those of you who weren't caught up in the Angry Birds craze, I'll break it down for you. So there are some birds. And they live on an island. And a few of them are really angry. One of those angry birds is Red, who is forced to go to anger management classes after he blows up on a customer. In therapy, Red meets Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride), and Terence (Sean Penn). Chuck is essentially a yellow version of The Flash, Bomb blows up all the time (obviously), and Terence is big and red and doesn't say much. The birds don't like each other at first, but over time, they become decent friends.

And then, the pigs show up. The birds have never met any other species before, so they're in love with their new visitors. However, Red is immediately skeptical of the pigs, who are led by the charismatic Leonard (Bill Hader). Red catches onto a bunch of lies that the pigs have fed the birds over their short stay here, and as the pigs become more and more comfortable, he becomes more and more suspicious. Eventually, his suspicions come true. The pigs take all of the eggs from the birds and go back to Piggy Island, where they plan on eating their treasure. After casting Red as a social outcast, the birds decide that it's time to rally around him and take down the pigs. They move to the island and basically shoot themselves at the pigs for 30 minutes. Then it's over.

Look, I didn't necessarily go into The Angry Birds Movie thinking that I would dislike it. In recent weeks, I began to believe that the potential was there for a LEGO Movie-style success, and even though most people called me crazy, I stuck to it. Early reviews didn't necessarily excite me, but I was still hoping for an entertaining ride that both adults and kids could enjoy. Unfortunately, I walked out wanting to punch myself in the face. The Angry Birds Movie is literally the opposite of what I was hoping for, which I feel like is some kind of ironic joke on me for ever really believing in this movie. It's shrill, exhausting, and completely lifeless, a movie squarely aimed at 5-year-olds with ADD attention spans.

I know some people will counter that argument with "Well, it's a movie for kids, what did you expect?" And I don't know why that viewpoint is still so prevalent because it has been proven time and time again that kids movies, even ones with ridiculous source material, can be great. Inside Out is one of the best films of the millennium so far, The LEGO Movie was an instant classic, and hell, we already saw a perfect example of this earlier in the year with Zootopia. Kids movies can be art. They can have interesting characters, good plots, and clever material. They don't have to play to the lowest common denominator, which is what Angry Birds does for 98 minutes. In that respect, this movie is a massive disappointment.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the Mr. Plinkett reviews from Red Letter Media. In those reviews, there's a quote from Star Wars producer Rick McCallum that they make fun of endlessly. "It's so dense, every image has so much going on," says McCallum, which Plinkett points to as one of the major flaws of the prequels. The Angry Birds Movie follows the logic of McCallum, and I think that this film is maybe one of the most deliriously frenzied movies I've ever seen, especially in the second half. The "eye" candy is spat out at an absurd rate, and every scene is just a frantic series of things flying across the screen. The Angry Birds Movie wants to entertain its audience so badly, and it throws everything in the hopes that something will stick. Occasionally, they get lucky. But most of the time, it's just overwhelming.

I guess the best thing I can say about The Angry Birds Movie is that it's insanely forgettable. I saw it a few days ago, and I must say, I can't remember anything about it that was overtly terrible. The only taste it left in my mouth was one of mild annoyance. The characters are all either over-caffeinated or smugly unlikable, which puts the movie in an interesting predicament. But overall, the movie does try really hard not to suck. So even though it ends up being pretty awful in the end, I gotta give it a few points for trying. Directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly were never really put in a situation where they could succeed with this story and these characters, and that's unfortunate. This is a bright and bubbly film, and if the studio had allowed for any compelling material to be crafted, this might have been a better film.

But in its current state, nothing interesting really does happen in The Angry Birds Movie. It tries really hard to entertain and dazzle, but it ends up simply evaporating, leaving your brain moments after you exit the theater. This movie has nothing to say, no story to tell, no memorable characters that will be ingrained in your mind. It's a film that just exists, made by the studio to capitalize on a franchise that was extremely popular nearly half a decade ago. Despite its colorful clutter, The Angry Birds Movie is as soullessly empty as animated movies come. It's just an feature-length excuse to shoehorn in a bunch of pop songs and sell more toys.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D+                                           (4.8/10)

Images courtesy of Sony Pictures

1 comment:

  1. "Insanely forgettable" is right.

    Nice review.

    - Zach