Back in 2009, a game came out for the iPhone that allowed you to shoot flying objects at structures with the sole purpose of murdering enemies and destroying property. That game was called Crush the Castle, and no one knew or cared about it at all. Later that year, however, innovative people took the mechanics of Castle and changed it to where cartoon birds murdered egg-stealing pigs and called it Angry Birds. This version immediately became a huge hit.
Now, with over a hundred variations of the original game (at least it feels that way), Angry Birds has cemented its place in the cultural zeitgeist as a great way to kill time while waiting at the dentist’s office (or anywhere, really). However, now the company behind the game, Rovio, is moving into the world of film, with their creatively titled “The Angry Birds Movie”.
While I’m not sure that anyone who played the game wondered what the backstory of the birds was, the movie takes the time and care to make sure that you understand who these characters are, and why they get so angry. The film centers on Red, the crimson bird with the big eyebrows, and follows his misadventures on Bird Island as something of an outcast. Unlike the rest of society, Red has always been angry, mostly because he’s been shunned and ridiculed his whole life (being a bushy-browed orphan apparently is just the worst). For this reason, Red must undergo anger management therapy, so he can better adjust to the needs of the locals.
That all changes, however, with the arrival of the pigs. Showing up in their makeshift boats, the pigs offer gifts and friendship to the birds and are quickly accepted into the society. In a dazzling display of oversight, the pigs even give the birds the large slingshot that they will use (spoiler alert) to destroy the pigs home.
If you have played the game(s) at all, then you know what happens next. Pigs steal eggs, birds go on rampage, and all is well in the end. While the birds used to avoid Red for his anger issues, it is that very anger that saves the day (and the eggs).
Overall, this film is mostly okay, even if it is wholly unnecessary. The plot is as straightforward as plots can go, but thankfully the huge cast of comedians makes the film mostly enjoyable. At its heart, this is really a kid’s film, and the large audience of children I saw this with seemed to like it. My biggest issue really is that the movie takes its time to introduce the characters and the world in which they inhabit, but when it comes time to rain destruction upon the pigs, the pacing is super fast and hectic, and almost feels rushed.
Another problem with the film (and most adaptations of properties that were never intended to make it to the big screen), is that because the filmmakers had to stick with the elements from the game, they basically had to reverse-engineer a film from that, rather than create an organic, authentic story. The pigs are never really explained, nor is their motive (greed and gluttony I guess?), so everything just kind of happens because it was part of the game, not because it makes sense within the plot. Nonetheless, the movie does a decent job of making you like the birds and care that the eggs were stolen. In the end, isn’t that all that matters?