ANGRY BIRDS (3 out of 10) Directed by Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly; Written by Jon Vitti; Starring Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Sean Penn, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate McKinnon, Tony Hale, Hannibal Buress, Ike Barinholtz, Tituss Burgess; Rated PG for “rude humor and action”; 97 minutes; In wide release May 20, 2016
Hollywood doesn’t do particularly well at adapting video games, and “Angry Birds” has all the same problems. While this film matches the colorful atmosphere and sights and sounds of its source material, a touchscreen game where you slingshot colorful birds at thieving pigs who have stolen your eggs, it can’t sustain a narrative of 30 minutes, much less 90.
It does have some good points, however. The mass destruction caused by the birds slingshotting into the pigs’ lair (which is somehow fortified with dynamite at every turn) is fun. But it takes over an hour to get there, and it’s quite a slog.
And it’s not just my opinion. As I often do, I enjoy bringing my kids along to screenings. The younger one, 8, who had begged me for weeks to see the film, was extremely bored and restless. So much so that he begged to borrow my phone to go out into the foyer to play… you guessed it: Angry Birds. Angry Birds Transformers and Star Wars, to be exact. He rather enjoyed the last 20 minutes of explosions, though.
“Dad, no one needs to know the backstory of the Angry Birds,” my elder one, aged 10, told me. Indeed. And that is the fatal flaw of this film. No one cares that the birds are angry, that they were sent to anger management classes. It’s approximately 40 minutes before the pigs even show up, much less start absconding the the eggs. The film is almost all exposition, mixed with a fruitless character “development” of the kind that only shows our main crew of the angriest of the birds being beset by bad things which would, in fact, make someone angry.
A few small bright spots come from the cast, who are trying their best with this material. Bill Hader as the leader of the pigs is especially good, as is Peter Dinklage as “Mighty Eagle,” the mythical superhero idolozed by young birds everywhere but who mysteriously disappeared. When the pigs show up, the angry birds must seek him out to learn how to fight back.
Unfortunately, more showboat than shogun, he’d rather pose and reminisce than mentor the birds. But Dinklage hams it up enough to make it fun. But it’s too little, too late in this case.
This isn’t the worst movie out there for kids, or even the worst in recent memory. But it isn’t particularly good, either. As with most video game adaptations, you are better off playing the original game for two hours than watching the movie. Just don’t take your phone out in the theater.
3 out of 10