One of the very first scenes we witnessed, in a teaser trailer for The Angry Birds Movie, was seeing our protagonist Red at an anger management class. This seemingly superfluous cinematic endeavour suddenly held some promise – as if writer Jon Vitti and co-directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly were merely using the notion of an angry, flightless bird, and building a narrative around that: it may have just worked. For the most part that appears to be the case, but as The Angry Birds Movie forcefully mimics the purpose of the original app it is based upon, in the most contrived way imaginable, things head steadily downhill.
Jason Sudeikis voices Red, an anomaly within the community of birds than inhabit the island they live on. For he’s cynical, resentful, and downright angry, making him something of a outcast in their society. But when Leonard (Bill Hader), a tyrannical pig arrives, it turns out that the blissfully unaware birds may have been wise to listen to Red, who had apprehensions about their new guests right from the start – as he latches onto the plan the pigs have of stealing all of the eggs on the island. So alongside his only two accomplices, Chuck (Josh Gad) and Bomb (Danny McBride) – who he met during anger management classes – they set off to save the future of the island, and crash land into a few green pigs in the process; spurred on after heeding the advice of the revered, and mythological Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage).
Without any real scope to forging a narrative from the popular smartphone app, we enter into an archetypal story of an underdog, which should appeal to the hearts and imaginations of those watching. But there’s a strong chance that the shoehorning in of the original game’s premise (for the flightless birds to be catapulted into buildings swamped by green pigs) will deter the older members of the audience, who will be left perplexed and disappointed by the tedious change of pace. It simply makes no sense and feels so unnatural in its inclusion, and while kids are unlikely to care (that’s the part they’re waiting for, after all), anybody old enough to have a grasp of the function of a linear, comprehendible narrative will be left wanting.
There are positives however: for the vibrant universe created is one that’s easy to immerse yourself in; while the notable lack of any romantic angle is a breath of fresh air for films of this nature. But ultimately this film, which seemed needless from the offset, has failed to subvert expectations in that regard. Of course it’s funny when Red is angry, walking around resenting everything and everybody – like an animated Larry David – but instead, and somewhat ironically, what transpires is a film that simply leaves us feeling just as aggrieved as he is.