(Roped into) Watching with Alex, Episode 5: The Angry Birds Movie

The Angry Birds Movie [2016]
Directed by: Clay Kaytis & Fergal Reilly
Featuring: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride
Production Company: Sony Pictures Imageworks
Poster Image © Sony Pictures
Category: Video Game Movie/Animated Comedy

I used to keep zebra finches. They’re probably the noisiest, messiest, dumbest birds one could possibly own. Bip-bip-bip-bip-bip-bip-bip. Seeds and poop all over the room, it was all I could do just to keep up with them and that was before they managed to sneak eight babies out of their house. Zebra finches, like many small birds, puff themselves up into fluffy balls when angered to appear threatening. This tactic does not work when you’re two inched tall and have beady little eyes so they just look “adorable”.

What does this have to do with our topic? One afternoon several years ago I was called into the living room. “Hey Alex, look at this news clip.” I sighed. “I already know about Angry Birds.” I will forever be the butt of tiny bird jokes and my family never misses an opportunity to gift me with all manner of birdie things. This had a side effect of causing me to loathe the Angry Birds game for no particular reason other than that it was soon everywhere in forty-seven flavors of the same exact damned thing. Then came the movie announcement. Shit.

Just for the sake of irony, I’d like to mention that I am the same person who thought Battleship was awesome.

So fast-forward to the present. Glen and Ashley (the folks I was staying with at the time) had just watched it a few days prior and so it was that Ashley pulls a Lorelei/Luke (Gilmore Girls reference, they did that to me, too.) on me and says that she and Glen would watch Vengeance of the Zombies if I then watched The Angry Birds Movie with them. As I wrote [last week’s] piece and am now writing this one, you shouldn’t need any more details.

Movies based on games have an excellent record of being terrible. That, however, is where the quip about Battleship comes back into play for Angry Birds, you see, completely ignores its roots and instead creates a story that has only includes only the most primary references to its source material, except that instead of extraterrestrial mech-newts they have green pigs. Every character we’re introduced to behaves in a grounded “I’m not a game character, I’m a person” kind of way. Everyone except Bomb. “Hi, my name is Bomb. I have an issue where I sometimes spontaneously explode.” Bomb is amusing but a bad case of “do nothing” rather than “Do something else”.

Surprisingly, I had many honest laughs during Angry Birds, the first of which being that their police department is called BIP. Even the Pigs, who by rights should have been every bit as obnoxious as the Minions have become, are just the right amount of crazy without making me scream, “Are they done yet?” over and over. There were times when even the soundtrack was perfect. The animation quality is also very high for a movie that started out in my mind as being “about a stupid game about nothing”.

Favored Ability: INT. Making smart use of limited material and feeling no need to overplay what work, The Angry Birds Movie should not be judged by its cover.

Rating: 4/5 (Above Average) (+1 Terence, +2 Animation Quality, +1 Music)
I got through some parts of this movie by telling myself that it was something weird by Dr. Seuss but the truth is that this one managed to charm me into accepting it for what it was. Angry Birds doesn’t have anything to be faithful to and so is free to explore. They took a concept with no story, made a story of their own, and included just enough of the game-play mechanics to tie it in with the base product. How did this movie manage to do the same thing as Super Mario Brothers and not suck?

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