My eldest two children have become a little obsessed with The Angry Birds recently. Despite having never played the game, or even knowing such a thing exists for that matter, they adore the brightly coloured characters.
The birds seem to be in the shops on all manner of merchandise and food products at the moment, and I’ve had to referee more than one fight between them over who gets which bird on the Frubes they sometimes take in their packed lunches. (Oh, the irony of them getting angry over The Angry Birds!)
With posters for the animated film scattered all over town, they’ve been super keen to see it – so we kick-started the bank holiday weekend with a trip to the Odeon cinema as part of our blogger ambassador role with The Red Dragon Centre in Cardiff Bay.
The reviews I’d read beforehand had been rather negative, criticising the dull storyline and clichéd bird-related puns. This is complete contrast to the public reaction because the film managed to gross $39m in the US box offices on its opening weekend, knocking Captain America: Civil War off the top of the charts, and has already earned more than $150m worldwide, according to estimates from Sony. Most of the critics are way older than the intended audience of this film (the under-11 crowd) – so what would they know anyway?!
My children loved it. Little Miss E, age 6, Little Man O, age 4.5 and Toddler Boy I, 2, sat transfixed for the entire film. With the trailers and adverts giving it a running time of an hour and 45 minutes, I think that says a lot about the film’s power to engage. There were one or two moments when they got a bit scared, but other than that, it was a fun and colourful film that they said they would happily recommend to other children.
The storyline follows Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), a red (funnily enough) bird with huge black eyebrows who can’t control his temper. After one rage-related incident too many with his fellow bird-folk on Bird Island, he is sentenced to anger management classes.
Shunned by his fellow birds, he forms an unlikely friendship with his course mates Bomb (Danny McBride), a large black bird with a tendency to explode, Chuck (Josh Gad), a fast-talking yellow bird, and the huge and mysterious Terence (Sean Penn).
When a gang of green pigs befriend the islanders, Red becomes suspicious of their intentions – yet no one believes him and he is further ostracised. However, when the pigs hatch a plan to steal all the eggs to feast upon, Red and his gang must come to the rescue.
When the other birds finally realise what the pigs are up to, they turn to our hero for help, and he wastes no time in rallying them to join him on a rescue mission.
As I mentioned, there were a few moments my kids watched behind their hands – Little Man got particularly upset when it looked Red would fail in this mission, but it was nothing a cuddle from Daddy didn’t solve.
Overall, they really enjoyed the film. They especially loved the birds being catapulted into the pigs’ castle – based on the game, but like I said, that fact was lost on my children.
From a parental point of view, it didn’t quite have the subtle level of grown-up humour usually found in animated family films, but there were some clever touches that would pass over the heads of most children. The Kevin Bacon in Hamlet poster in the background of one of the scenes made me laugh, as did references to bird control, as a play on birth control.
The Angry Birds Movie is a fast-paced, inoffensive and enjoyable film, full of colour and character. The critics might not have loved it – but my kids did, and that’s what matters most to me.
The Angry Birds Movie (U) is currently showing at the Odeon cinema at The Red Dragon Centre, Cardiff Bay. You can watch the trailer here.