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The Angry Birds Movie - DVD Review

The Angry Birds Movie

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

FOR a film based upon a mobile phone app, The Angry Birds Movie could potentially lay claim to being one of the better big screen adaptations of a popular computer game. But that would still only be damning it with faint praise!

Rather, first-time feature directors Clay Katis and Fergal Reilly have delivered a hit-and-miss animated adventure that is undoubtedly fun in places, yet overly reliant on crude humour.

It looks great, with some eye-catching artwork throughout, but the characterisation also leaves a lot to be desired, especially in its depiction of the tiresome piggy villain. Hence, while undoubtedly zany and slapstick enough to keep younger viewers entertained, it falls some way short of the ability of Pixar or Disney to play as well to older viewers too (albeit with a surreal nod to The Shining included).

The plot is fairly flimsy too and feels stretched even at just over 90 minutes. It follows Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), one of the more angry residents of the generally peaceful Bird Island, as he is forced to enter anger therapy in a bid to keep his emotions in check.

Once there, he reluctantly makes ‘friends’ with Chuck (Josh Gad), a hyper-active cock; Bomb (Danny McBride), a black bird attempting to keep his explosive tendencies in check, and Terence (Sean Penn), a menacing, inarticulate giant who nevertheless has a heart of gold.

When their island is suddenly threatened by the arrival of the aforementioned pig villains [from neighbouring Piggy Island], Red is immediately sceptical of their intentions. But his concerns are largely ignored by his fellow residents until it’s too late, prompting Red and his colleagues to emerge as unlikely heroes to save the day.

Jon Vitti, who has written for The Simpsons (good) and Alvin and the Chipmunks (bad), The Angry Birds Movie takes a lot of familiar genre elements (outsider/loner forced to come good), and does very little that’s new with them. Rather, it goes through the motions while remaining careful to work in the game elements that will be familiar to the many millions of people who became addicted to the app in the first place.

But while that is certainly lazy, that’s not to say the film is all bad. Indeed, there are some very funny sight gags tossed in here and there (especially during the early, establishing sequences), while a wild opening sequence that sets up Red for his fall from grace is huge slapstick fun and reminiscent of a Chuck Jones style of animated comedy.

A prolonged gag involving Eagle urine is also a guilty pleasure that will have you laughing in spite of yourself, while the principal voice cast also help to ensure the characters have more colour than the script allows. Sudeikis makes Red amiable, if not overly memorable; Gad follows up his excellent voice work as Olaf in Frozen with another endearing turn here, and Penn proves an inspired casting choice as the gruff Terence, delivering his lines via a series of groans. The ever-reliable Peter Dinklage also affords the film’s Mighty Eagle a few well delivered lines to savour.

If anything, the movie’s plus points actually highlight the failures even more, making this a frequently frustrating effort that leaves you with the nagging sense that things could have been a great deal better.

That being said, adults won’t feel that angry at having seen it afterwards, while the little ones will be amused.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 94mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: October 17, 2016