The success of Rovio’s mobile game Angry Birds has assuredly died down, so this venture already felt a little dated, and it’s not exactly helped by a mediocre story line and skeletal characterisation, the game itself is so simple that it almost begs the question, why make a movie with it in the first place. Which is not to say it’s without laughs or charm, just that it’s quite shallow and easily forgettable, with a stale message that borders on unpleasant.
The first sequence itself, a fast paced but long drawn out scene involving Red trying to get to a birthday party on time, was a foreshadowing of the whole movie; relentless pace most of the time but with moments that dragged on for too long. For a movie about angry birds, hardly anyone was all that angry. Red (Jason Sudeikis), an orphaned outsider who was bullied as a kid, comes off as a mouthy, sarcastic kind of the deadpan variety, and his outbursts, even when his house was broken, aren’t all that violently angry. Part of this is down to the voice acting, and partly to the lines he’s given.
Chuck (Josh Gad) is a charming, cheerful speedster but he and the explosive Bomb (Danny McBride) are never really explored. Matilda (Maya Rudolph) was quite funny as the anger management counsellor who had to keep calming herself down as well. Judge Peckinpah (Keegan-Michael Key) was funny in his main scene, but the joke on his height was rather dull the next few times they referred to it. On a personal observation, Leonard (Bill Hader) was underused, and Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) grabbed screen time that could have been put to better use.
The puns in the dialogue felt rather trite, and possibly inappropriate for a children’s movie, some were good but some felt shoe horned in. What did work, however, was the multitude of visual puns to keep adults happy while children enjoyed the action. The sequence of the birds destroying the piggy town was a delightful one, where the action really kicked in. The underlying message however, not so much.
The music too was a nice touch. If you wondered where the baby blue birds were, then the last scene was immensely satisfying. The pop culture references, however, are evidence of how one-note the whole thing is. Movies packed with jokes like Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, a personal favourite, are destined to only work in a limited time span, the next generation is not going to find these funny.
The movie does not bode well for movie adaptations of video games, albeit the video game and a movie have very different goals. One hopes that lessons are learned from this venture. News that Fruit Ninja will be adapted into movie from however, leaves one sceptical.