The movie based on the Angry Birds games is all right, and at least provides decent laughs…
In 2009, a video game company in Finland called Rovio Entertainment released Angry Birds, a mobile device game that is very simple yet highly addictive. If you’re not familiar with it, the game involves launching birds from a slingshot towards enemy green pigs. Different birds have special abilities, while the pigs have a variety of materials, like pieces of wood, rock, and glass, to make defensive structures. The object of each level is to destroy the pigs with the birds you are given, by hitting the pigs directly and/or toppling the structures to defeat the pigs indirectly. This brilliantly simple concept has led to a whole line of Angry Birds games, such as Angry Birds Seasons (with sets of levels in various themes, like holidays), Angry Birds Space (set in gravity and zero-gravity environments), Angry Birds Rio (a tie-in with the animated film Rio), and even two Angry Birds Star Wars games (with the birds and pigs as various Star Wars characters).
So if you were to make a movie based on this video game, how would you do it? There’s not really a story. Actually, that’s not entirely true. There is a story, but it’s a very simple one. Basically, in most Angry Birds games, the birds go after the pigs because the pigs have taken their eggs. That’s really it. So for a movie, you at least have something to start with. But there’s still the challenge of expanding on it so that you have something that can last at least 90 minutes. Now, I know nothing about the process of writing the story for this movie, but it’s possible, based on what I’ve seen in this movie, that the writers took a backward approach. Let me explain.
Imagine taking a really big level from an Angry Birds game, one with tons of things to destroy and topple over as well as a ton of green pigs to defeat, and converting that into a really detailed 3D animation scene depicting a pig castle and a surrounding town. In that scene, have the birds from the flock launch themselves towards the castle and town using a giant slingshot, and have each of those launched birds destroy as many things as possible. Then include moments during the action where the main characters are trying to save the day and defeat the pig leader. All of this will comprise the climax. After recreating the mayhem of the game as the movie’s climax, present a story that explains things like the origin of the slingshot, the reason the birds become angry, and how the pigs steal the birds’ precious eggs.
Whether the writers started with the climax at the end or the story beforehand, I can at least say that the two parts go together well enough and are not disjointed. Also, the story is decent and nowhere close to terribly stupid. For one thing, it establishes one premise I didn’t expect: the main characters of Angry Birds do not represent their entire flock. Instead of a flock of birds who are predominantly angry, we have a flock of birds that enjoy a peaceful happy life, and the angry birds are a minority disliked for disturbing the flock’s tranquility. This is why the bitter bird named Red is sent to a clinic for anger management, along with the speedy yellow triangular-shaped Chuck, the big explosive Bomb, and the really fat red bird named Terence. One other character from the game, a motherly white bird named Matilda, appears here, interestingly enough, as the instructor teaching relaxation.
One other thing to keep in mind is that much of the humor in this movie is noticeably different from that of the original source. The humor of the Angry Birds games comes in the form of comic mayhem. Besides the games, there is also a series of Angry Birds animated shorts, called Angry Birds Toons, that present playful and lighthearted humor. Compared to the games and those cartoons, this animated movie has followed what is essentially the new standard of many 3D animated films: present colorful images for the kids while throwing in crude adult humor that would hopefully go over the kids’ heads or at least not upset them. On that note, there is one scene in this movie that you will either find funny because of its surprise or offensive because it’s totally out of place for the world of Angry Birds. All I’m going to say is that it involves a urination joke.
I didn’t have too many expectations for this movie, and after seeing it, I can say that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. If anything, I was amused enough by its humor and story. Also, as someone who has enjoyed the Angry Birds games, I liked the references to the game that are in this movie, like the fact that the pigs have many costumes and build a lot of machines. Overall, I’m not one of those people who feel angry about The Angry Birds Movie. Rather, I found myself smiling at the end of the movie, as simple as it is.
Anthony’s Rating: 6/10
(Review originally published at AnthonysFilmReview.com)