After I watched the first trailer of The Angry Birds Movie, I had only one thing to say “A movie based on a video game about birds and pigs has no business looking this good.” Because really, it’s flying birds and creepy pigs. How do you make an entire movie based on this fairly flimsy equation? Turns out the answer is – with great gusto. The Angry Birds Movie, all 97 minutes of it, is as visually rich and varied as the game and everything about it is enthusiastic. Beginning with its lead character Red, the angriest of the birds, voiced by the excellent Jason Sudeikis.
It becomes clear very quickly that the whipsmart Red is more than a little frustrated at the hyper-happy, ‘everything is shiny’ bird world that he lives on the fringes of. A particularly explosive display of anger leads him to be sent to anger management therapy where he meets the speedy yellow bird Chuck (Josh Gad), the naïve large black bird Bomb (Danny McBride) and the big hulking red bird Terence (Sean Penn) who speaks only in earth-shattering grunts. Things are moving along as per usual when the bird island receives visitors – a rare occurrence. A large sea vessel bearing two pigs pulls up on the shore and the birds are ecstatic. The lead pig Leonard (Bill Hader) is quick to announce that he comes bearing gifts and would love a tour of their island. The innocent hosts are overjoyed and happy to show him and his underling around. A more skeptical Red is not so sure everything is as it seems and he sets out to investigate with Chuck and Bomb. Sure enough, he’s right, the pigs are the enemy and here to plunder and destroy. It is now up to Red to save the day.
The basic story takes its time setting itself up as does the rest of the film. In the meantime you get to enjoy the visual spectacle of the universe the filmmakers have created for the birds. There is wordplay in every detail (Home Tweet Home), a very robust soundtrack and visual flair for each new element (the Mighty Eagle’s introductory dance number being a great example). The unhurried pace sometimes makes itself felt and leaves you wishing the story would move on a bit. That is the only complaint I have with this film.
The voice performers are spectacular and the dialogue gives them great material to work with. The music, as I mentioned, is an added bonus and the characterisation of all the birds is a thing of beauty. Look at the Mighty Eagle’s bird-hands when he plays the guitar. That’s better finger-picking technique than I’ve seen from some real people.
I had a fun time watching this movie and recommend it if you’re looking for an easy film to watch this weekend. Is it going to be a cult classic? I don’t know. It sure was fun though.