The first hurdle that The Angry Birds Movie 2 has to overcomes is following up the far superior short film Hair Love. It is a difficult task to headline after a short that is as beautifully heartfelt, tender, funny, and imaginative as that short is. And, as expected, The Angry Birds Movie 2 does not live up in any of those categories.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 has a beating heart in its feathery breast, to an extent. There is a rudimentary theme that has legs long enough to encompass the entire runtime. The skinny of it is that Red (Jason Sudeikis), the bird hero from the first film, exhibits constant existential fear over the possibility of losing his fame and being ostracized by his Bird Island community once again. But, as this is an animated children’s film, he clearly must learn to work as a team and share the spotlight.
Some humor comes from the self-centered persona that Red puts on to hide this insecurity. The character humor is certainly stronger than the almost non sequitur misdirection that punchline most jokes and the numerous, obvious needle drops (the laziest series of needle drops I’ve heard in a film in a long time, and I recently saw The Kitchen). The only truly funny needle drop involves a ’90s flashback, as the joke involves the obviousness of the song choice.
While there is not a standout vocal performance in the cast, pretty much every actor sells the subpar script with aplomb. This doesn’t make the film funny, per se, but it makes it more tolerable. What it comes down to is that the script is not clever enough. The most clever aspect is a subplot involving three baby chicks and a trio of unhatched eggs, which very loosely connects back to the main plot.
The main plot is a simply takeover story. Cannons of ice start crashing down on Bird Island and Pig Island, instigating a truce between the rival colonies of Pig and Bird so they may face off against their new enemy: Zeta (Leslie Jones) and her army of Eagles. The Eagles want to take over the tropical islands so they no longer have to live in the icy squalor of their own island. Red and a crew of Birds and Pigs alike must infiltrate Zeta’s volcano base and stop her “super weapon” before it’s too late.
It’s largely uneventful. There’s some mileage to be had from a gag involving a faulty eagle disguise, but otherwise the third act infiltration feels too long. The action is relatively dynamic. But the editing at times confuses geography, and the gags which interrupt the action are by and large ineffective.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 is not particularly impressive. It advances its protagonist’s arc by taking a step back, and its plotting is overbearing for the narrative scope. And ultimately, it isn’t all that funny.
The Angry Birds Movie 2: C-
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)