An island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red, a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck, and the volatile Bomb 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.
Fortunately, for this recently often unlucky company, The Angry Birds Movie is way better than most viewers would expect. That said, expectations are probably pretty low, given the ground-grazing bar set by the majority of game-to-film adaptations. Even for onlookers who’ve never played any of the games, the whole concept isn’t even “so last year,” it’s so 2011. Admittedly, the storytelling is not in the league of Pixar or Disney at their best, and with the male-dominated cast it’s a bit embarrassingly retrograde in terms of gender balance, even compared with Ratchet. But the animation punches well above its weight with properly Looney Tunes-standard sight gags; polished, highly expressive character design; and rendering so intensely computed nearly every barbule and rachis on each individual feather is visible.
Given that there’s such a paucity of narrative in the original games and the shorts are nearly dialogue-free and all about slapstick anyway, the screenplay by Jon Vitti (Alvin and the Chipmunks), based on a story credited to John Cohen, Mikael Hed and David Maisel, hasn’t got much material with which to build up characters from the start. (Mind you, The Lego Movie probably had even less to work with.) Vitti’s script sets out to answer the core existential question many might have asked themselves: Why are these birds so angry? Why don’t they fly? And what’s with the green pigs?
We never do find out exactly why they’re all flightless birds, but it turns out that life on Bird Island is by and large fairly content, peaceful and good-natured. So much so that naturally testy-tempered cardinal Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) is made to feel like a social outcast among the happy-clappy residents and is ordered by the court to attend anger-management classes run by Matilda (Maya Rudolph), an indeterminate species with pretty mauve-colored plumage but her own barely suppressed issues.