The Angry Birds Movie review

angry-birds-posterAngry Birds joins a very short list of movie adaptions based on video-games from my home country, a list that so far only includes Max Payne. Well, the first thing I can say is that we’ve luckily come a long way since said film and the Angry Birds movie exceeded my expectations on almost every level, granted those expectations weren’t very high. I won’t go so far as to say this completely makes up for the disappointment of Ratchet & Clank not getting a cinematic release in Finland, but at least I’ve gotten off to a good start for this year’s selection of video-game films.

The Angry Birds Movie focuses on Red, the titular angry bird who is ordered to anger management therapy. There he meets his allies, Chuck the speedy complainer and Bomb… who explodes. The island is over-run by visiting pig dignitaries, whom Red is convinced is up to no good. The other birds, whose opinion of Red is way less than flattering, don’t believe him and have their eggs stolen. It’s only then that the Birds band together to get their eggs back.

The story is about as predictable underdog hero rises to meet the challenge fair as it gets, but the movie actually has a really good pace. It doesn’t drag its feet and the moment of realisation after the pigs have made off with the eggs has surprisingly high emotional impact. The final act of the film is mostly just zany comedy and of course features the Birds propelling themselves with a giant slingshot.

The animation quality is excellent and there are lots of great sight gags and physical comedy which has been done well (I think this already came through well with the trailers). But I was genuinely over-all impressed with the film’s sense of humour. Even if the laughs come from occasionally very simple elements, the film is just incredibly well put together. There have been some complaints about the high amount of adult comedy in the film. This is a common flaw with many animated films produced outside the Disney/Pixar axis but with all except one or two instances, I didn’t find the adult humour too off-putting (and children are most likely just to laugh at the silliness of the scenes rather than anything else).

In the same vein, you could consider the high amount of licensed songs heard through the film a little off-putting but they actually fit the mood and pacing where they’ve been used surprisingly well, so they rather add than detract from the film’s over-all feel. The movie maybe shoehorns a few pop culture references which aren’t entirely necessary (The Shining one feeling particularly out-of-place), but again the film’s own comedy works just as well. And the many different bird characters really liven up the picture,

The casting for the film is really solid, although I felt Josh Gad just completely stole the show as Chuck. Really, Gad’s delivery is just fantastic. Peter Dinklage gives a very funny and self-conceited portrayal of the Mighty Eagle and Keegan-Michael Key (of Key & Peele fame) is also hilarious. In fact, if there’s anyone whose performance maybe warrants some criticism it’s that of Jason Sudeikis as Red. Although some of his rants are pretty funny, the problem is that there’s a clear disconnection between the character and the way he acts. This isn’t Sudeikis’s fault but I think the performance is way less relatable than Gad’s.

A general problem with Red’s motives is that his heroism can’t really be justified by his actions in the rest of the film. While he’s one of the few characters in the film with any common sense, he’s also a big jerkwad for about 70% of the film which makes his sudden heroic initiativeness for the rest of the time just seem flat-out, out of character. This isn’t for a lack of trying, the film even tries to set him up as the underdog outsider – but it’s hard to cheer him on when his response to everything is just a (sometimes not even a mildly subtle) jab or insult. Similarly, I think the pigs were kind of a one-dimensional threat to the characters and I even felt Bill Hader really under-performed as the Pig King Leonard.

So over-all, the Angry Birds Movie is a delightfully silly and over-the-top, but really well animated and paced story of birds fighting back to get their eggs. Like I said, my expectations for the movie were not especially high and I’m not saying this film is in any way shape or form outstanding, but it’s incredibly entertaining and way better than what I expected based off its source material which is a mobile game. Well done, Rovio. My hat’s off to them.

Score: 3½ out of 5

  • +1 Josh Gad
  • +1 The comedy
  • +1 The action
  • +½ The Music
  • -½ The few really disgusting jokes
  • -½ Jason Sudeikis’s character
  • -1 The Pigs are just kinda dull as adversaries
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