Genre: CG Animation
Director: Fergal Reilly, Clay Kaytis
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Keegan-Michael Key, Tony Hale, Tituss Burgess, Ike Barinholtz, Hannibal Buress, Blake Shelton, Jillian Bell, Danielle Brooks
Runtime: 1 hr 37 mins
Released By: Sony Pictures Releasing International (Singapore)
Official Website: http://www.angrybirds-movie.com/en/
Opening Day: 26 May 2016
Synopsis: In the 3D animated comedy, The Angry Birds Movie, we'll finally find out why the birds are so angry. The movie takes us to an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds – or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red (Jason Sudeikis, We're the Millers, Horrible Bosses), a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck (Josh Gad in his first animated role since Frozen), and the volatile Bomb (Danny McBride, This is the End, Eastbound and Down) have always been outsiders. But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it’s up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to.
Who would have thought that a video game app which lets you use a digital slingshot to hurl angry, flightless birds at green pigs who have stolen their eggs would become such a phenomenon five years ago? And who would have thought that after fading from public consciousness for some time, these non-aeronautic feathered creatures and their enemies would re-surface in similar bright, colour-rich palette form in an animated big-screen feature, voiced by a first-rate voice cast including no less than Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Peter Dinklage and Sean Penn? Considering how you’re probably not expecting this to be the next ‘Inside Out’ or even ‘The Lego Movie’, ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ is really more fun and entertaining than it has any right to be.
Even as it tries to give its most ardent fans an answer to the question ‘But, why are they so… so angry’, let’s be clear that the screenplay by veteran television writer Jon Vitti (of ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘The Larry Sanders Show’) does not go very far beyond the basic birds-versus-pigs premise of his source material and is basically summed up in the following few lines. Once upon a time, there was an island of happy birds whose eggs were stolen by little green pigs who arrive by ship from distant Piggy Island. No thanks to the marauding pigs, the birds decide to embrace their angry side as they wage a battle against the pigs to rescue their eggs. And because the birds could not fly, they eventually use a giant slingshot left as a gift from the pigs to launch themselves onto the island, discovering their hidden powers (such as exploding or inflating upon impact) in the process.
Not surprisingly, the hero of the story is Red (Sudeikis), an irascible odd bird in an otherwise jolly community, who is sentenced to anger management class with New Age-y therapist Matilda (Rudolph) after a bout of avian rage against a demanding customer. Red’s fellow classmates include the hyperactive yellow canary Chuck (Gad), the inadvertently explosive blackbird Bomb (McBride) and the massive growling big bird Terence (Penn). It is Red who first voices suspicion about their eventual green-sized arch-nemeses when they land on the island pretending to bear gifts and goodwill, and who will eventually lead his community to war when they realise how foolish they were to be taken by the pigs’ slimy charm, especially that of their charismatic, sweet-talking leader Leonard (Bill Hader).
Livening up the straightforward narrative are plenty of DreamWorks-inflected, pop-culture “savvy” jokes that are surprisingly witty and inspired. Red’s anger management instructor Matilda describes herself as a “free-rage chicken”. A fellow avian who stands outside his house offering free hugs to passers-by is called out for being weird and disturbing. Chuck’s painting during one of the classes is a self-portrait of him as a superhero as he dashes in front and behind his canvas. But perhaps most diverting of all is Red’s quest to locate the birds’ legendary enigmatic guardian Mighty Eagle (Dinklage), whose Lake of Wisdom turns out to be his own personal urinal and which their encounter turns out to be a clever lesson against the pitfalls of hero worship.
Thanks to first-time feature directors Clay Katis and Fergal Reilly (who have been longtime studio animators at Disney), the visuals are as appealing and delightful as can be. Much attention and care has been devoted to the character design of the birds – from their shape, size and colour to their eyes and even their feather textures – so that each is distinctive in its own right. The always bright-coloured animation is often eye-popping, filled with a cornucopia of details big and small. And parents will be glad to know that the directors have gotten the pace and tone just right to keep the kids thoroughly engaged, without ever tipping into hyper-active mode like Saturday-morning toons are oft to do.
In fact, those looking for more than just an animated joyride will find a surprisingly unusual moral takeaway about channelling that anger inside of us in constructive ways, especially when it comes to getting even. There is even a lesson or two about colonialism and the compromises of mutual accommodation in a civil society, which is frankly more than we’d ever expected from a mobile-gaming app’s origin story. Thanks to a smart-aleck script that is always amusing and occasionally downright hilarious, as well as top-flight animation and voicework, ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ is a fast, fizzy and furiously entertaining big-screen adaptation that will surely be the first of several more to come. So what if it isn’t interactive? If it is this exuberant, we’d gladly sit back and watch them birds fly.
(Packed with witty pop-culture savvy jokes and told with a delightfully irreverent spirit, this big-screen adaptation of the once-insanely popular mobile gaming app is fast, fizzy, and furious fun)
Review by Gabriel Chong