The “Angry Birds” movies are the textbook definition of chaotic energy. The second film in the franchise, directed by Thurop Van Orman and written by Peter Ackerman, Eyal Podell and Jonathon E. Stewart, is somehow even more chaotic than the first. But what else could one possibly expect from the sequel to the animated feature adaptation of a smartphone game where the object is to launch small round birds at green pigs using slingshots?
These movies are wacky. They’re silly. The writers launch ’90s jokes right over the heads of the kiddie audience, aiming squarely for the noggins of their parents. They’ve got the entire Sony Music catalog, and you bet they’re gonna cram in 30 seconds of every familiar hit song to which they already have the rights.
It’s a colorful, cuckoo-crazy, sometimes funny, often bewildering experience, to which you slowly become numb with every incongruous shot of Leonard the pig’s round, green butt. Come to think of it, it’s the kind of entertainment that could only be enhanced with a little green.
But it’s not all just pop music and toilet humor (though that’s a lot of it). The saga is a tale of the violent horrors of colonialism. In the first film, peaceful flightless birds battled the invasion of an ingratiating porcine population, led by Leonard (Bill Hader), who had the ulterior motive of stealing their eggs for food. After leading a guerrilla mission on Piggy Island to rescue the eggs from the porky pioneers, angry outcast Red (Jason Sudeikis) became a folk hero. Now, the birds and pigs must band together to survive as a mysterious third party has launched an all-out attack on both islands in a ruthless land grab.
The offending invader is Zeta (Leslie Jones), an embittered eagle who has marshaled all her tremendous scientific might into launching ice bombs (and then lava-filled ice bombs) at Bird and Piggy Islands because her own island is “too cold” and she’d like a tropical vacation.
Red reluctantly agrees to team up with Leonard because he believes his only worth lies in his identity as a rebel hero. If they have speed-dating on Bird Island, you would think they might also have therapy. Nevertheless, Red and Leonard assemble a team, “Ocean’s Eleven”-style, to sneak into Zeta’s lair, “Mission: Impossible”-style, and end the bombing campaign. The enterprising yet immature group is made up of speedy Chuck (Josh Gad), explosive Bomb (Danny McBride) and a new team member, the bright engineering student Silver (Rachel Bloom). Mayhem, dance battles, bathroom showdowns and outlandish feats of physics ensue.
“The Angry Birds Movie 2” (it makes me angrier every time I type that instead of “The Second Angry Birds Movie”) is somehow looser, more disjointed and yet deeper than the first. The film flits from set piece to set piece, from lava bombs to bird dating to pop n’ locking eagles. Often, we stray from the main plot to a minor side plot involving a trio of large-eyed, baby-talking hatchlings who lose three eggs and embark on an impossible quest to rescue them. And yet it also surprisingly deals with real emotional quandaries, like abandonment issues, rage, scorn and self-worth. If there’s any lesson here, it’s to always expect the unexpected when it comes to “Angry Birds.”