Strip back the pristine visuals, which were once meticulously hand-drawn, and most animated films are hard-wired with a life lesson to cherish.
The Angry Birds Movie, a feature-length animated spin-off from the addictive smartphone games, tears out a new page from the self-help manual: it’s OK to get mad as long as you can channel that aggression in a positive direction. The central character of Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly’s film certainly spits feathers in the pursuit of a greater good.
Screenwriter Jon Vitti peppers this haphazard, but energetic flight of self-discovery with a barrage of dreadful puns and dad jokes that will inspire as many groans as giggles.
Thus, one anger-management therapist bird proudly advertises herself as a free-rage chicken, pigs aspire to wear Calvin Swine underwear, and a poster advertises Kevin Bacon’s return to the stage in... Hamlet.
Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) is an outcast on Bird Island, where the rest of his flightless flock tweet peace and harmony.
An unfortunate incident with an unhatched egg lands Red in court where Judge Peckinpah (Keegan-Michael Key) sentences him to a course in anger management led by perky clucker Matilda (Maya Rudolph).
Fellow attendees include wide-cracking live wire Chuck (Josh Gad), who can move at superbird speed, the aptly named Bomb (Danny McBride), who self-combusts when surprised or stressed, and hulking Terence (Sean Penn), who communicates in booming growls.
Red resists Matilda’s techniques because, as he reminds his brethren, ‘We’re descended from dinosaurs. We’re not supposed to be nice.’
When a ship full of pigs led by smooth talker Leonard (Bill Hader) arrives on Bird Island, supposedly in peace, Red is the only inhabitant to sense impending disaster.
Other birds fail to heed his warnings and when his doom-laden prophecy comes to pass, Red joins forces with Chuck and Bomb to locate the island’s mysterious protector, Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage).
The Angry Birds Movie is a glossy promo for the games and associated merchandise, showcasing the different birds and their associated powers, but it’s also a lot of fun so long as you ignore the flimsy and predictable plot.
Animation quality doesn’t soar to the dizzy heights of Pixar, but co-directors Kaytis and Reilly maintain a brisk pace and the screen shimmers with bright colours.
Vocal performances are solid and Demi Lovato’s cover version of the Gloria Gaynor discoball classic I Will Survive flaps up the feel-good factor.