Courtesy of Sony
Continuing to search for new franchises, the folks at Sony Picture Animation are offering an extension to their 2016 sleeper hit “The Angry Birds Movie.” Based on the popular, best selling, app, the follow-up appropriately titled “The Angry Birds Movie 2” - comes equipped with a fresh cast and a somewhat energetic premise than before.
Best known for his work on the small screen, new feature director Mark Van Orman takes over the hyperkinetic pacing, sharp colored, and manic comic energy of the “Angry Birds” universe. Though it lacks the sort of deepen emotional connectivity akin to “Toy Story” - the stylized animation will no doubt entertain (or distract) the youngsters for 90 minutes. In addition, there’s plenty here in terms of lightweight fluff and enough adult humor to keep the parents from dozing off too.
While the plot of “The Angry Birds Movie” was a direct homage to the game, with its choreography and ballistic battles among the citizens of Bird Island, led by the poster Angry Bird child himself Red (Jason Sudeikis) and his pudgy green swine nemesis Lester (Bill Hader). The sequel - aside from a brief prank war in the opening credits - instead has the two polar opposites team up to fight a common enemy in an effort to detour from the games narrative focus, and actually expand the scope of this world. The film also draws on a hefty list of the industry’s finest - Peter Dinklage, Maya Rudoplh, Danny McBride, Nicki Minaj, and Awkwafina - to help keep things fresh, as well as casting the children of Nicole Kidman, Viola Davis, and Gal Gadot in minor speaking roles as adorable hatching chicks.
As for the common enemy, the writers have added a third island to the mix and a new supervillain in the form of Zeta, the head matriarch and unabashed ruler of Eagle Island voiced with winning sass by SNL’s own Leslie Jones. The plot centers on Zeta’s intention of staking claim in a new tropical home in lieu of Eagle Island’s constant and frigid temperatures. The inhabitants can’t even take shower without ice cubes coming out of the faucet, and Zeta’s only dog is stuck inside a giant block of ice.
Upping the ante, Zeta begins lambasting her coveted target islands with giant ice cannonballs fired from a volcano-powered slingshot, forcing the two conflicting species (Pigs and Birds) in calling a truce to carry out an undercover mission to Eagle Island in a bid to stop Zeta’s all powerful weapon. It’s a move in the right direction for the series, considering its predecessor was more focused on silly and cartoonish violence to sell itself. Here, the James Bond style of humor nudges it closer in respect to the high bar of this studios brand of storytelling (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” springs to mind).
Of course, none of the tykes truly care about the glue which holds this together. But there is enough in “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in terms of flashy colors and goofy slapstick (plus the occasional fart and pee joke guaranteed to get massive giggles) that’ll keep the little ones engaged. Meanwhile, adults should get a kick out of the nostalgic throwbacks (including nods to both “Rocky” and “The Great Escape”) and a soundtrack stacked with Bon Jovi and Foreigner (among others) that should, more or less, send everyone out on a high note.