‘The Angry Birds Movie’ never gets off the ground

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The Angry Birds Movie (2016)

Directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly

“The Angry Birds Movie” feels forced, like they tried to stuff the popular app into a 98 minute movie. It is essentially a giant market ploy trying to convince you that their game (now in its second generation, Angry Birds 2) is still popular. I’ve never seen a movie do so little with so much.  Despite detailed animation and a strong vocal cast (at least on paper), “The Angry Birds” movie never gets off the ground.

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Red (Jason Sudeikis) is sentenced to anger management for prematurely breaking the egg of a perfectly happy bird family (don’t worry, it survives) after an unnecessary tirade. There, he meets the explosive Bomb (Danny McBride), the quiet Terence (Sean Penn, wasted talent) and the quick-tongued Chuck (Josh Gad), three others with similar issues. When a ship full of pigs visits the island, the Bird Island judge and leader (Keegan Michael-Key) is ecstatic to welcome his new guests, a sight for sore eyes on the small, isolated island. But Red senses something sketchy about the way the pigs admire the birds’ eggs. When his fears turn out to be justified, he scrambles to gather the Bird Island residents (each, as you know, with their own unique talents) and lead them in all-out angry war against their swine enemies.

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Billed as “Josh Gad‘s first animated role since ‘Frozen’” is a lot if build-up for what is ultimately a sick money-grab that chews up good vocal talent and spits them back out. Or in some cases hides them in minor characters or behind bland voices that aren’t easy to pick out. Even looking through the cast list, I can’t recall the characters voiced by comics like Kate McKinnon or Billy Eichner. Sudeikis sounds downright normal. Keegan Michael-Key sounds like an old white man. I had no idea it was him. It’s as if first-time directors Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis told their stars, “No, sound less like yourself.” Which begs the question, why pay for nearly 20 recognizable names (over half of the overall cast) if you’re not going to make them count?

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Then there’s the loose story. Since a game like Angry Birds doesn’t really lend itself to a film plot, the screenwriters make a few stretches trying to reference the game as often as possible, without regard for if it makes any sense. And trying to blend a violent game like Angry Birds (the pigs explode…are you telling me they live?) with a PG-rated kids movie also presents confusion. “The Angry Birds Movie” should have never happened. If you’re unfortunate enough to see it, I’m sure you’ll agree.

5/10

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