Something that was demonstrated at the end of last month, video game movies have a very hard time with being a good adaptation of the source material and making a good transition to being an enjoyable product on the big screen. As Ratchet & Clank also showed us, it doesn’t matter if it’s aimed at the kids either, if you don’t have anything good to sell you might as well just not sell it at all. Against all of that, Sony, Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animation are looking to not only overcome this exact obstacle stigma, but be the first successful adaptation of a phone app. That’s right, the birds in a giant slingshot game has been made into a feature film and is now on the big screen!
There have been and continue to be many naysayers spitting venom at the simple fact that the bestselling smartphone app of all time has been shoveled into movie theaters and when first brought to the table, the filmmakers felt the same way. How do you bring this simple concept to the big screen? It’s just a touch and drag game where you send a bird flying into a structure with little green pigs on it to save your eggs. Well, the fact that aside from the simple premise of birds versus pigs, the actual story aspect is an open book of anything because, let’s face it, everything else in this world is completely open to embellishment, and this is exactly what the movie does.
Our main character is Red (Jason Sudeikis), a loner bird whose ire with the world around him keeps him secluded in his beach home, outside of the main town on Bird Island. At the start of the film, we follow Red through the forest as he struggles to make his appointment for his job as a birthday party clown, which he arrives late for. The father of the child in question berates Red on his doorstep causing Red to lose his temper and gives some of that attitude back tenfold. This lands him in court where he’s sentenced to anger management with Matilda (Maya Rudolph) and meets fellow attendees Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride) and Terrence (Sean Penn), who only expresses himself through a series of grunts.
Anger management does next to nothing for Red’s unhappy disposition and seems to increase his loneliness, despite Chuck and Bomb really wanting to be his friends. Red’s cantankerous mood seems to deepen until Bird Island receives a new group of visitors, a ship of green pigs that pulls up on shore, destroying his house in the process. The entire population seems to fall in love with the leader, Leonard, and his group, while Red is completely untrusting, digging to find the truth about them, a plan more sinister than he could have believed. Under the false pretense of being explorers, Leonard and his fellow pigs look to take all of the birds’ eggs from them to feast on in their own kingdom. It’s then up to a reluctant Red and his new friends to convince his town of the danger and rescue their eggs.
Against anything I believed was going to happen heading into this movie, I actually enjoyed myself. The world of the Angry Birds is lavish and beautifully animated, the cast is incredibly stacked and the script is one that will delight the kids and make adults go “did he really just say that?” Yes, at times the humor does get a bit subtly blue, something that I think highly benefits the movie and gives the adults something to chuckle at. With such a blank canvas of character development to work with, The Angry Birds Movie really has an unlimited range of which they can pull from, nothing is off limits and they really take that advantage.
This film also utilizes the 3D technology in the best way I’ve seen an animated movie do in years. There are numerous gags that make the format very fun and every time the characters talk in a single coverage shot their beak seems to protrude from the screen. It all comes to a great conclusion in the third act where the immersion of 3D makes the whole homage to the game sequence that much more entertaining. The kids are fully part of the movie as an entire structure but the filmmakers obviously want the adult audience to experience some child-like wonder too.
If anything, The Angry Birds Movie may have taught me not to write off anything right away. As much as I wanted to be predisposed to hate this film based on a market exploitation standpoint, there wasn’t anything in the movie that made me want to hate it. All the cast is having fun with their respective roles, I didn’t want to strangle Josh Gad and it had me fully engaged for the entire run time. Going through films like Norm of the North and Ratchet & Clank had me very worried that my kid was going to get more fulfillment out of an hour and a half than me, but The Angry Birds Movie is actually a success. I’m total baffled too. I give it a three out of five.