Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Angry Birds

The addictive app gets the big screen treatment and it's darn entertaining!

I’m used to being angry at birds. As I write this, some annoying little feathered miscreant is making a god-awful sound right outside of my window. It’s not a chirp as much as it is a whine. One of my all-time favorite movie moments is in “Funny Farm” when Chevy Chase chucks coffee at a particularly annoying bird that is interfering with his concentration. I can relate and am tempted to do the same.

But this movie isn’t called “Angry Humans” and it’s not about us targeting birds with our warm cups of java (though I’d play that game). This movie is called “The Angry Birds Movie,” and it’s based on the phone app game of the same name. The premise is simple: Evil pigs have captured your fellow birds. It’s up you you—using your finger on a touchscreen, some strategy, and a ton of luck—to sling shot other birds into the pigs’ fortress and break the cages to free your captured brethren.

Now for the next trick: Turn that premise into a 90-minute movie. This was no small task. There are four writers credited on “Angry Birds”: story by John Cohen, Mikael Hed, and Mikko Pöllä; screenplay by Jon Vitti. This is not always good. Sometimes too many cooks in the kitchen—and the egos involved—result in an uneven mess of a story. But sometimes it is a good thing, and the best most creative ideas from each contributor come forward. That is the case with this movie, as I am sure finding a good story and filling it with compelling characters was a tough nut to crack.

The story of “Angry Birds” follows Red (voice of Jason Sudeikis). He’s not angry at the world, but he is quick tempered. Being made fun of as a kid for having big eyebrows will do that to a bird. After a thrilling opening romp through the jungle island that introduces the main character and setting in an exciting way, Red has a confrontation that forces him into anger management. It’s here that he meets cohorts Chuck (voice Josh Gad) and Bomb (voice of Danny McBride).

As if being forced into anger management wasn’t bad enough, Red’s beachside house is wrecked by a ship full of pigs from Pig Island, led by Leonard (voice of Bill Hader). The pigs seem friendly and the other birds like them, but Red of course takes an instant disliking to them and seeks the wisdom of the legendary Mighty Eagle (voice of Peter Dinklage).

Mighty Eagle lives on top of a high mountain, overlooking the Lake of Wisdom. What Mighty Eagle actually uses the lake for leads to one of those jokes that starts off funny, then keeps going to the point of discomfort and embarrassment, then keeps going on just long enough to be funny again. Red’s punchline at the end of the gag is one of the funniest jokes in the movie.

The humor in “Angry Birds” is pitched at just the right level for its content, which is around adolescent to young adult. Younger children may like seeing the colorful birds and enjoy the song and dance number, but the story is pitched for more grown up minds, and a lot of the humor will go over their heads. Adults with a good enough sense of humor to appreciate the movie for the fun lark that it is should enjoy it.

The animation in “The Angry Birds Movie” is colorful and simple. No doubt this is meant to evoke the simplicity of the game, and it works. While not as creative as the multiple lands that comprise “Zootopia,” the Bird Island and Pig Island have their own unique feel to them. The Bird Island has more jungle and trees, while the Pig Island is more of a cityscape. All the better to have plenty of structures that can be destroyed by ticked off, sling-shotting birds. Buy it on Amazon: The Angry Birds Movie [Blu-ray].

More New Releases: “Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made,” about a group of friends reuniting to finish their shot for shot fan film recreation of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”: “God’s Not Dead 2,” in which the God in school debate gets political; “Hardcore,” good but uneven 1979 movie with George C. Scott playing a violent Calvinist from Grand Rapids, MI, searching for his daughter in California’s seedy underground porno industry; “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia,” gritty Sam Peckinpah movie from 1974 starring Warren Oates as an American out to claim a bounty in the Mexican underworld; and “Microwave Massacre,” a movie that, in spite of the title, is not actually about massacring microwaves.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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