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Family Movie Review: The Angry Birds Movie (PG)

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MPAA Rating: PG        Length: 92 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 8+. This animated film based on the popular phone game adapts that story by focusing on literally “angry” birds who are struggling with their rage issues. There is some violence, including chase scenes, a major battle, and birds’ eggs being stolen to be eaten; one bird causes another couple’s egg to prematurely hatch; some bullying; some gross moments with snot, bird poop, vomit, and a lengthy urination scene; some flirting; some sarcastic jokes and rude comments about genitalia and birth control; and some weirdly sexualized things, like stripping pigs, a joke about toplessness, and a peeping-tom moment.

‘The Angry Birds Movie’ tries to spin a story out of the mega-popular phone game that pits birds and pigs against each other. The film gets the job done, but there are strange tonal shifts here and a surprising amount of off-color jokes.

By Roxana Hadadi

Any movie based on the Angry Birds would have to address the point of the phone game: to protect bird eggs from pigs who want to steal and eat them. That’s kind of dark already! But “The Angry Birds Movie” adds an adult tone and surprisingly gross jokes to the proceedings, making this supposedly family-friendly film raunchier than is welcome.

“The Angry Birds Movie” has a problem when the most memorable thing about it is a lengthy, disgusting gag about male urination, but that’s not the only off-color joke. There are sarcastic puns like “pluck my life,” an off-hand remark about testicles, a reference to “50 Shades of Grey,” and birds defecating and vomiting, and altogether it feels like the filmmakers reverted to the basest level of comedy to pad out the story into feature-film length.

The movie focuses on Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis, of “Mother’s Day”), a bird with anger-management issues stemming from a tough childhood: he was an orphan, constantly bullied for his large eyebrows (“He doesn’t have parents, or even friends,” says one cruel classmate in a flashback), and now he lives as an outcast on Bird Island. “Just take responsibility,” people keep telling Red, but why should he have to when everyone else has done him so wrong?

When Red ends up in court for antagonizing a family, he’s ordered to attend anger-management classes, where he meets the speedy and vain Chuck (voiced by Josh Gad, of “Pixels”); the self-effacing Bomb (voiced by Danny McBride, of “Aloha”), who tends to explode at inopportune times; and the scary, silent Terence (voiced by Sean Penn, of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”).

Red doesn’t take anything in the class led by Matilda (voiced by Maya Rudolph, of “Big Hero 6”) seriously, and although Chuck and Bomb want to be friends, he refuses. He secretly wants companionship, but he rejects others—it’s a cycle of self-sabotage.

Red becomes even more alienated, though, when a ship unexpectedly arrives from Piggy Island. The birds thought they were alone in the world, but the pig Leonard (voiced by Bill Hader, of “Inside Out”) charms them with his tales of being an explorer, and they welcome him with open arms. But when Red warns his fellow villagers that something feels very, very wrong about this, they don’t listen—to their own detriment.

Will Red be a hero in this war against the birds and the pigs? Or will he turn his back on the same birds that turned their backs on him?

Like so many other children’s movies, there’s a general message about “finding yourself” in “The Angry Birds Movie,” although this one is a little different from other animated fare because it actively supports Red’s anger and distrust of others. When he says things like “We’re birds. We’re descended from dinosaurs. We’re not supposed to be nice,” it’s supposed to be a fist-pump moment, but how the film devolves into a massive battle between the pigs and the birds—with explosions, bombings, and other violence—feels inappropriate for young audiences. The moral here seems to be that solving problems through violence can be a good thing, and that’s probably not the best thing for impressionable children.

Putting all that and the film’s unfortunate sense of humor aside, there are enjoyable things about “The Angry Birds Movie”: all the voice acting is very good, and there are funny little touches like the pigs holding signs that say “I love cholesterol!” For the most part, though, “The Angry Birds Movie” feels overly long and overly adult, with more gross jokes than funny ones.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.

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