There’s just no escaping Angry Birds: the eternal app goes from smartphone screen to silver screen.
Did we need an Angry Birds movie? No, of course we didn’t. Did we want an Angry Birds movie? No, I don’t think we did. But here it is anyway.We now live in a world where addictive smartphone apps are apparently natural source material for summer blockbusters. I suspect you might have spotted one of the potential problems with this film, and chances are you’ve asked the same key question I did when I first saw the poster: is anyone even still playing Angry Birds? Can there possibly still be people who haven’t gotten around to uninstalling it? The game was first released in 2009 and since then has proved incredibly profitable for creators Rovio Entertainment: spin-off computer games, console games, theme parks, TV shows, toys, books and even soft drinks bearing the Angry Birds logo have been churned out with alarming regularity.With that in mind, it’s even sort of surprising it’s taken them this long to release a feature film. In many ways, Angry Birds (the app) seems to have been around forever – seriously, can you remember a time pre-chucking birds at pigs? That being said, I wouldn’t exactly call the film adaptation timeless; this is a fairly transparent attempt at simply cashing in on the old success of the wildly popular game. However, if you’re a child, a die-hard Angry Birds fan or a combination of the two, you’ll be entertained enough to be tempted into re-installing at least one of the many (read: MANY) apps to wile away countless hours.
Set on an island inhabited by the colourful flightless birds who’ve saved many a delayed train journey, the film takes the basic concept of the birds in combat with thieving pigs and… well that’s about it. Jason Sudeikis voices Red, a cynical and bad-tempered bird who is ordered to attend bird-court-mandated Anger Management classes. Here Red meets some like-minded misfit birds - voiced by Sean Penn, Josh Gad and Danny McBride – who become his partners in saving the bird island (more on this later).
When a seemingly-benevolent clan of pigs arrive on the island, Red is immediately suspicious of them and their leader Leonard (Bill Hader) and with his merry band of disillusioned fowl sets out to investigate the pigs and save his island. Of course, we already know the pigs are not to be trusted, and before long the birds embark on a desperate quest to save their eggs from the invading swine.
With the exception of Inside Out, there aren’t many animated films using anger as such a prominent emotion, which lends Angry Birds a humour that will amuse both kids and their cynical, sarcastic parents alike. Red and the rest of the birds eventually learn that a bit of anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and hatch – pun intended - a plan to rescue their eggs.
This is a fairly transparent attempt at simply cashing in on the old success of the wildly popular game.
It’s not always clear who the target audience for this film is – on the one hand it’s a U-rated animation about colourful birds, and on the other hand there is an abundance of sarcasm, puns like “pluck my life” and references to decidedly adult films like The Shining and Fifty Shades of Grey.
Ultimately, if you’re familiar with the game and looking for a kid-friendly entertaining comedy, check this out. It might not be the most sophisticated plot in the world, but it’s identifiably Angry Birds. There are some cracking jokes here and you’ll get at least a few chuckles out of it. Kids will love the bright colours and angry birds, and it’s worth shelling out for Hader’s voice work alone.
In a world where smartphones are becoming increasingly central to our lives, it’s hardly surprising one of the most popular apps of all time would transition to the big screen – even if no one really wanted it to. In a way it’s killing two birds with... actually, that seems a little insensitive. It’s a neat enough expansion of the brand, and certainly a savvy way to get people re-installing the game again. Lastly, an apology for my egg yolks – I mean, jokes – but it’s a film about birds, what were you eggspecting?
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