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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

The Angry Birds Movie 2 review: Featherbrained foolishness; spare your kids. 1 star

The Angry Birds Movie 2 review: This painful new animated film could either be a sedative or a stimulant for your kids; choose wisely. Rating: 1/5.

hollywood Updated: Aug 23, 2019 15:39 IST
Rohan Naahar
Rohan Naahar
Hindustan Times
The Angry Birds Movie 2 review: Films like this are responsible for killing your kids’ attention spans. So pay attention.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 review: Films like this are responsible for killing your kids’ attention spans. So pay attention.
         

The Angry Birds Movie 2
Director - Thurop Van Orman
Cast - Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Leslie Jones, Bill Hader, Rachel Bloom, Awkwafina
Rating - 1/5 

The Angry Birds Movie 2 shows such reckless disregard for the rich history of animation, and filmmaking in general, that it barely qualifies as a movie at all. It is, instead, a grotesque product; an empty cash-grab; a piece of content that exists solely to be flogged to a generation of children whose attention spans have forever been corrupted by the very video game that inspired it.

It expects you to recall the events of the first movie, which, at three years old, might already be too dated. The sequel could very possibly be attempting to lure a core audience that has already outgrown it. Of course, it doesn’t matter in the least whether or not you remember the adventures of the slacker bird Red and the pompous pig Leonard. These movies aren’t so much driven by their plots as they are stitched together by a series of vaguely connected gags.

Watch the Angry Birds Movie 2 trailer 

It is almost as if they’re designed to appeal to children who cannot concentrate for longer than five minutes at a stretch. So even if you find yourself being forced to chaperone your child to the bathroom in the middle of some nonsense scene, or having to splurge an exorbitant amount of money to purchase snacks that could, depending on your choice, act either as a sedative or a stimulant, do not worry. You will miss nothing.

The story involves real estate scams and cross border tensions - certainly not something you’d expect in a film geared towards pre-pubescents. But there you have it. When lifelong enemies Red and Leonard learn about a third belligerent, they must put aside not only their personal differences, but also presumably millennia of ingrained hatred for each other’s kind, and work together. If there’s a ‘message’ in there, it was well and truly drowned out by the film’s loud tone, in an act of glorious self-sabotage.

This image provided by Sony Pictures shows Silver (Rachel Bloom), from left, Red (Jason Sudeikis) and Chuck (Josh Gad) in Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animations' Angry Birds 2.
This image provided by Sony Pictures shows Silver (Rachel Bloom), from left, Red (Jason Sudeikis) and Chuck (Josh Gad) in Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animations' Angry Birds 2. ( AP )

The deadly cynicism of this franchise is made all the more depressing if you consider the fine work that Pixar, Aardman, and especially Laika are doing - to varying degrees of success, of course. And I’m speaking only of the English-speaking world, because there are probably scores of local animation houses still struggling to secure financing for original ideas, while The Angry Birds Movie 2 slingshots its way to millions.

If you were to glance at a list of the top 10 highest grossing films of 2019, you’d find that half of them have been distributed by Disney. And each of those five movies is based on a pre-existing piece of IP. To be clear, this isn’t a comment on the quality of those movies - I liked Avengers: Endgame as much as the next guy - but more a resigned acknowledgement of the corner we’ve backed ourselves into.

This image provided by Sony Pictures shows Red (Jason Sudeikis), left, and Leonard (Bill Hader) in Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animations' Angry Birds 2.
This image provided by Sony Pictures shows Red (Jason Sudeikis), left, and Leonard (Bill Hader) in Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animations' Angry Birds 2. ( AP )

Animation offers filmmakers the unique opportunity to cast actors against type - if we can’t see their faces, then we can’t immediately associate them to their past work. Each performer in The Angry Birds Movie 2 is committed, but everyone is playing a type. So if Jason Sudeikis is the Average Joe, Josh Gad is the comic relief, and Danny McBride - in an example of the most hyper-specific typecasting of all time - is a pyromaniac, just like his character in Tropic Thunder.

Films such as The Angry Birds Movie 2 will always continue to attract top-tier talent, because budgets are high, and time commitments required from actors relatively low. It never ceases to amaze me that the Academy Award-winning Sean Penn voiced a character in the first Angry Birds film. To put matters into perspective, in 2008 - the same year he starred in Milk - Penn lent his voice to the magnificent, black-and-white, hand drawn animated film Persepolis, about a young woman’s coming of age during the Iranian Revolution.

If Sean Penn could be converted, then what chance do we have?

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The author tweets @RohanNaahar

First Published: Aug 23, 2019 13:25 IST