In 2009, a video game application came on the scene available for download on your Smartphone – Angry Birds. It quickly became a popular download and has crossed into other platforms such as tablets and Facebook applications and has reached into other pieces of merchandise. And seven years later in 2016, it became an animated film.
Some may call it a cartoon. But it seems the term animation has come into play within the last several years and that’s exactly what it is – animation. This medium is very prevalent in today’s storytelling movie-going experience. And it can be an effective way to tell a story. That’s one strength with the film in that the animation is well done and there is nearly the look and feel of the video game. That being said, there are flaws with the film.
I’m sure most everyone is familiar with the game and this film version stays pretty faithful to it. It’s simple. Piggies come to Bird Island and offer peace and friendship. That is until they discover the birds’ eggs. The piggies hatch a plan to steal all of the eggs for themselves. So the birds attack the pigs to get their eggs back. This is the concept for the game and plays well for the latter part of the film, but for the 97-minute runtime it makes for a long exposition.
That exposition involves a basic backstory, some music, and some sight gags that give a reason for these birds to exist. It doesn’t seem this is enough to fill the needed time with satisfactory material for an engaging, entertaining film. It does have moments and the animation is colorful and is true to the game, but it does little to add to the overall enjoyment of the film.
We are introduced to the three protagonists – Red (Jason Sudeikis), Chuck (Josh Gad), and Bomb (Danny McBride) – who lead the attack on the pigs. Other big names lend their voices to the birds and give them personalities and somewhat entertaining characters. A few of those names are Maya Rudolph, Peter Dinklage, Sean Penn, and Keegan-Michael Key. To lead the pigs is Leonard (Bill Hader), who is the most distinct pig character as the rest lack individuality. For the most part, these characters seem to be the only lively thing in the film.
Co-directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly do what they can with the material presented in the script by Jon Vitti. So while the premise works well for a game, it doesn’t do so well for feature length animation. I’m not sure if there would be anything else one could change or add to the script to make it more enjoyable, but it seems this was a futile attempt in trying to capitalize on the franchise.