By Sapna Khajuria
Pranks, frenemies, jokes on repeat mode, and lots of slapstick – that and more is the theme of the new Angry Birds movie.
Bird Island and Pig Island seem to be enjoying their version of idyllic living after the events of the first movie. In the Angry Birds dictionary, this means playing pranks on one another by sending giant buckets of dirt to each other’s island via a slingshot.
On Bird Island, Red has become something of a celebrity, a hero who saved them all. His face is on billboards all over the island, birds look up to him, little birds want to be him – charmed life, did you think? Alas, uneasy lies the head that adorns the billboards. Red has a crippling fear of being popular only as long as the rivalry with the pigs remains; and refuses to accept an offer of a truce from Leonard, the leader of the pigs. Sadly for him, truce comes as happy news to other birds and his face is now replaced on billboards by happier posters, making his worst fears come true – set to the background score of “All by myself”.
As the movie chugs along at a slower pace than one would expect, giant spheres of ice are bombed onto Pig Island, being sent by a menacing eagle named Zeta. Zeta lives on a mysterious frozen island, is sick of it, and would rather be sipping drinks with an umbrella by the beach. Solution? Occupy Pig Island and Bird Island.
Leonard shows up to seek help from the birds in a mission to save the islands. Red sees this as a chance to become a hero and find a place on billboards again. He agrees to join the mission to defeat the new enemy. The only problem with his grand plan – Leonard wants to be the leader too. After much slapstick comedy involving worms and fires and falling, they start to get a team together – Ocean’s Eleven style. They have Bomb the black bird, an explosives expert, speed demon Chuck the yellow bird, and a fearless warrior Mighty Eagle (in reality a cowardly eagle), and Brainiac engineer, Chuck’s sister Silver. Silver and Red don’t have the best impression of each other, having met previously in a hilarious speed dating for birds. The pigs get their own team together – Chuck, Leonard, Courtney, Larry, and in a bird version of mansplaining, Red manages to take over as leader while Silver is clearly the one best qualified.
Off goes this merry pack of misfits on their mission to infiltrate and destroy the enemy island. There’s a side story of three little baby birds who manage to lose three eggs in the ocean. Their adventures that involve lots of gags and was a big hit with younger children in the audience.
Along the way, there are jokes about pig snot, some characters singing very badly, and lots of toilet humour – the younger lot was beside themselves with joy. Older kids, not so much. There’s a scene where pigs and birds inside a giant eagle costume have a dance off against a bunch of eagle guards. For my boys and I, this was the funniest scene of the movie. We learn that Zeta is actually Mighty Eagle’s fiancée whom he abandoned at the altar. She’s got quite the revenge planned, by wanting to escape her icy wasteland and convert Pig Island and Bird Island into her personal mega developed paradise.
In the end, teamwork wins – a combo of Silver’s super-fast brain, Red’s bravery, and the pigs’ daft but sweet efforts, wins the day. The islands aren’t bombed, Red returns a hero, gets over his insecurities and everyone basically lives happily ever after. Except the baby birds, who manage to return safely with the help of some cute little piglets, but land up in trouble again, making it look like there will be an Angry Birds 3 movie to continue their story.
Yay or nay
Younger children will enjoy the humour, but this one’s definitely not a joyride for older children. My pre-teens found the first half boring and slow. Thankfully, after a meandering first half, things move into a faster gear in the second half. Go for some laughs and gags. The soundtrack is quite good – Eye of the tiger, Hello, The final countdown – retro tunes and even a 2 minute Baby Shark song, particularly in the second half, add to the fun of mission destroy evil eagle.
What does not work
The story line is reed thin. I wish powerful film studios would invest in smaller, independent animators’ works rather than rehashing the same plotlines. They will clearly make money off the film, but there are hardly any good jokes or stellar animation that sets this film apart.
Humour quotient and Swear-o-metre
Expect lots of slapstick and toilet humour. There are some one liners that save the day, like jokes about bacon when Leonard is too close to a lava machine, but nothing spectacular or memorable. There are no inappropriate scenes as such – a couple of references that younger kids won’t understand anyway; some speed dating jokes, but that’s about it.
Positives to take away from the film / talk to your kids about
Red starts off as deeply insecure and far too full of himself. Silver teaches him to share, to work in a team, and to not be insecure. There are lessons about team work, innovation and bravery, especially in scenes of the little birds and their madcap adventures in search of the lost eggs.
My pre-teens’ review
It’s just about okay – the story is a bit lame and stretches too much. Some of the dance-off jokes and scenes with Larry the pig’s useless inventions were funny, but they are not exactly excited about the prospect of Angry Birds 3. We met some friends whose younger children loved the movie, and thought Red was their favourite hero; so clearly it’s geared towards younger audiences.
(The writer is a lawyer by training, who would rather be a full-time globetrotter, and mom to 12-year-old twin boys who share her love for all things filmy.)