Angry Birds 2August 16, 2019
By DAN LYBARGER
blood, dirt & angels
The Angry Birds Movie 2
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Leslie Jones, Bill Hader, Rachel Bloom, Awkwafina, Sterling K. Brown, Eugenio Derbez, Tiffany Haddish, Danny McBride, Peter Dinklage, Pete Davidson, Zach Woods, Dove Cameron, Maya Rudolph
Director: Thurop Van Orman
Rating: PG, for rude humor and action
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes
It’s too bad I was paid to cover The Angry Birds Movie 2. I’d prefer to tell the world about the funny, heartwarming short that preceded it, Matthew Cherry’s Hair Love. It concerns a struggling African-American dad attempting to make his daughter’s mane look presentable. He imagines this intimidating growth as if it were a monster refusing to be conquered or defeated. During the process, he sees himself as the loser in a boxing match.
After I saw the film, a white single dad told me how he had run into similar issues, so the story is remarkably universal.
It’s also cleverly told. There’s no dialogue, except from Issa Ray (Insecure), who delivers the narration from the videos the dad and the daughter consult. The 2D animation is both imaginative and stylish, and the ending was powerful because we find the girl is motivated by more than vanity or even fashion sense.
Unfortunately, The Angry Birds Movie 2 followed Hair Love. It’s almost as imaginative as its title. It makes fans of the video game (like me) regret getting hooked on sling-shooting birds at egg-thieving pigs.
The new film abandons that conceit for something less involving. At the beginning, Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) is basking the glory of keeping the pigs from a nearby island away from avian eggs. Before he can enjoy how the fellow birds who once mocked him now sing his praises, a rogue eagle named Zeta (Leslie Jones) starts shooting missiles of lava filled ice at both the birds’ and the pigs’ islands.
The two species set aside their differences in order to protect their homes. Even for a cartoon, lava-filled ice projectiles seems unlikely, as if the three credited screenwriters (Peter Ackerman, Eyal Podel and Jonathon E. Stewart) had settled for the current option because it was the only one that literally was not taken.
Some formidable talents provide voices, but the characters are so thinly drawn and unengaging the only way I knew Awkwafina was involved was because I spotted her name in the credits. It might take an FBI investigation to find her character otherwise.
References to common bodily functions seem thrown in to pad the film out to arely over 90 minutes.
Vewers masochistic enough to endure the film might want to bring their cell phones so they can play the game as a reminder for why Angry Birds became so popular. But beecause Hair Love is so endearing, I’d almost suggest buying a ticket just to see the short and then spending the rest of the afternoon going to a park and watching actual birds.