Ages 11 and under
In-Your-Face Kid’s Comedy
The entire concept of birds sacrificing themselves to knock pigs off construction sets is easily an idea I could have come up with last Friday night at 2:30am after multiple shots of hard liquor. But who cares, right? That’s what makes Angry Birds so oddly engaging to play! So of course, this is the perfect material to make a motion picture out of! I mean, come on. I have always enjoyed the iPhone game, but how could a 97-minute story of these birds possibly be decent?
Well, just like this:
Step 1. You make the main character an underdog with an anger issue who is disrespected by the town.
Step 2. You set up his team through an anger management class.
Step 3. You introduce the filthy rich green pigs as the main villains a quarter of the way through the movie, promising fun recreational activities for these villagers.
Step 4. You make the main character the only one in the town who knows how to stop these deceptively bad pigs.
Step 5. You let these bad pigs steal the eggs of the birds in the town in order to eat them.
Step 6. You save the actual game-playing part until the final moments, and only for five minutes tops.
Step 7. You throw in puns. Lots and lots of puns.
I’ve gone crazy now after hearing, “Happy hatch-day, Pluck my life, Insta-ham, and Kevin Bacon in Hamlet.” But you know what? Toucan play at that. If this movie can go mad with puns, then I sure flocking can too!
The movie’s egg-selent screenwriter Jon Vitti got his start writing adult comedies such as SNL and The Simpsons, and maybe he should have left his nest there. He sprinkles in a confusing mix of not-so-subtle jokes meant to fly over the kids’ heads, along with humor that is winging it toward the twelve and younger crowd. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but that’s not the worst of the script. While each character, big or small, is memorable and faithful to their virtual counterparts, they are also entirely unmotivated and all-around fowl.
Each bird is either:
D. All the above
Owl go with option D.
Heron the island of birds, we meet all the same characters from the game. You know that white egg-shaped bird named Matilda? She’s voiced sweetly and calmly (despite being an “angry” bird) by Maya Rudolph, the only actor in the cast who dove into the role with serious effort. Then that yellow triangle-shaped bird named Chuck is voiced by Josh Gad, and he is basically Olaf gone cuckoo. His best friend is that black bomb bird, and together they are so un-emu-sing that you ought to flip the bird at each of them. The gigantic bird, named Terence, is the closest thing to funny this movie gets to, and he just flew right by without enough screen time. Then there’s the little blue bird that beaks into three, who doesn’t even show up until the end-credits scene. Oh, and I guess there’s Red. Yeah, his character just flew south on me.
The world of these birds is also rather cheep. Basically it is all recreated from the designs in the game as well as the Toon series (since after all, everyone behind the scenes was too chicken to take risks and be creative). I’m sure it is a beautiful world on screen, but aviary-thing in the frame was moving too fast for me to get a good look at the details. But essentially, while it’s ostrich from the PG rating, the most genius thing is a pregnant bird carrying her egg strapped onto her like a pregnant human. Seriously—what the duck?!
The jokes probably would have quacked me up if the animators actually took a breather in between each pratfall and one-liner. Also, if half the jokes were removed entirely, the uninspired incomprehensible plot would have felt less gull. By jokes, I mean a nipple gag, a malfunctioning stairway, and an eagle peeing into a pond for a full minute (yes, this movie resorts to that hawkward level of humor).
Yet a-parrot-ly, there are still a few attempted messages. It teaches that while anger ought to be ill-eagle, it’s good motivation to fight for the right causes; but it’s also entirely forgotten by the last few moments and is even deliberately mocked.
I’m talon you, if a movie about the Angry Birds really needed to exist, then it should have be done by artists who actually gave a hoot to the parents who had the bird-en of allowing the ticket prices to go on their bill. So stick with the game, there’s no peeing eagles.
The original iPhone game was harmless and straightforward, but this movie, with the added power of narrative storytelling, teaches a dangerous message that says anger is proper motivation to accomplish goals. While it may be true in some respects, the way this movie explains it suggests that disrespecting others is okay in the process, as long as you follow your impulse.
It’s true especially today in our millennial culture of mobile devices and streaming options on-the-go, but I know of several parents who are not good at surveying what their kids watch, and how little they know about the media they are taking in. I even knew of a couple who let their six-year-old daughter watch the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie alone, a PG-13 movie which opens with hundreds of people getting hanged—not appropriate stuff for little girls to be watching.
While all parents must be cautious as to what they let their kids watch, there is an even greater threat to wrong morals getting picked up by kids with autism.
Many of my autism lessons talk about how kids with autism can have very obsessive interests, and these interests can dictate everything they do day in and day out. It means they can keep these interests for years, and no filter would go off that would tell them what their interests are teaching them. I’ve spoken before about my interest in the Nickelodeon sitcom Drake & Josh, and how my love for the humor in the show has drawn me to it, but I also said how its poor role models was subliminally affecting the way I thought…
…which leads me into the point that I want to make today, which is how the expansion of an interest can lead to a lack of discernment between positive and negative messages. Anyone, autistic or not, can have this feel of loyalty to a franchise (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Twilight, to name a few) where their commitment prevents them from wanting any negative emotions towards the property. With autism, any flaws in the properties can be entirely blind to them. For instance, I was completely unaware of the negative messages sent from Drake & Josh until I grew up and looked back on the episodes I had memorized word-for-word.
Likewise, any child with autism could have an obsession over the Angry Birds franchise, so much so, that they could think that this movie is the funniest thing ever, and not understand what it does wrong. Therefore, they will mimic what the main character does to the other characters, which if left unchecked, could turn him into a bully at school, leaving him completely friendless.
I hate to say that the same happened to me, as Drake & Josh shifted my mindset in 8th and 9th grade to setting my priorities on getting a girlfriend. It’s not a bad goal, except my plans in doing so were forcibly harassing the pretty girls at my school, who frankly also had horrible personalities. I thought, if it worked with Drake Bell, it’s got to work for me too! Yet it did more harm than good to my goal, and once I stopped watching the show (due to it leaving primetime), my motives slowly changed to seeking out a girlfriend in the right timing, and purely because of her personality. Now, dating someone is not my priority, and all because I chose not to allow my obsessions to control my moral thinking.
Which is why I want to press how urgent it is for you to have that same discipline with what your children watch, it affects them more than you realize.
- Teach your kids to not let their obsessive interests control everything about their lives. Before they mature, movies, books, toys, and TV shows are their lessons on living, and they have to learn to spend less time with them and more time connecting with siblings and friends.
- Be cautious about the movies you show your kids, and pay VERY close attention to the ratings—they’re there for a reason! Yet even so, you have to know what your unique child can handle, and match that up with specific content described in reviews on the films they want to watch.
- Here is an excellent site to help to understand messages in movies and other media.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Angry Birds Movie. Sony Pictures. Web. <http://www.angrybirds-movie.com/en/>.
Common Sense Media. Web. <https://www.commonsensemedia.org/>.
Roberts, Sheila. ‘The Angry Birds Movie': Fergal Reilly & Clay Kaytis on Transitioning from Animators to Directors. Collider. Complex Media Inc., 15 May 2016. Web. <http://collider.com/angry-birds-movie-directors-fergal-reilly-clay-kaytis-interview/>.
Trumbore, Dave. ‘Angry Birds’: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, and Maya Rudolph Crow about the New Movie. Collider. Complex Media Inc., 18 May 2016. Web. <http://collider.com/angry-birds-cast-jason-sudeikis-josh-gad-maya-rudolph-interview/>.
Watch the new trailer for The Angry Birds Movie! Digital image. Rovio. EULA, 12 Apr 2016. Web. <http://www.rovio.com/watch-new-trailer-angry-birds-movie>.