The 400-Word Review: Angry Birds
By Sean Collier
May 25, 2016
The Angry Birds series of video games concerns a species of off-color pigs driven to commit acts of ritualistic infanticide against several species of alarmingly mutated birds. In response to this unrelenting aggression, the avian protagonists mount an unending campaign of suicide attacks designed not simply to kill but also to destroy all vestiges of porcine infrastructure as a measure of revenge.
The movie makes less sense.
There was a moment — it has passed, but that never stopped a movie studio — where the Angry Birds series was moving a lot of merchandise. Shirts, stuffed birds and pigs, board games, coloring books; despite the relative simplicity (and, it must be said, unoriginality) of the game, the marketing was undeniable. So why not a movie?
Admittedly, the financial and meritorious success of The LEGO Movie proved that films based on commercial interests can still be worthy in the right hands. But The Angry Birds Movie is far, far away from the right hands. Directed by a pair of rookies — Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, both of whom have experience only as members of animation departments — and written by TV veteran Jon Vitti, The Angry Birds Movie has shockingly little respect for the intelligence of its young audience.
Red (voice of Jason Sudeikis) is one of the only residents of the birds’ island home who exhibits any emotion other than boundless positivity. A meltdown during a delivery job sends him into anger management classes; meanwhile, a posse of pigs arrives at the island, seemingly extending a branch of friendship. Of course, they’re actually there to get the eggs, and Red is the only one who can see it.
The plot is weak, with a learning-to-work-together thread duct-taped to an utterly pedestrian conflict. And while a number of very fine actors — Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage and more — are employed here, they seem no more interested in The Angry Birds Movie than the unfortunate parents in the crowd are likely to be.
But the real offense: The film thinks very little of children. While Disney, Pixar and even DreamWorks have immense respect for the emotional intelligence of kids, these filmmakers believe tots only want to be amused by explosions, low humor and puns. That it operates so far below the level of contemporary family entertainment is not surprising, but it is insulting.
My Rating: 2/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark