The Angry Birds Movie felt like something of an oddity during the time of its release. The obvious name recognition certainly went a good distance when it came to the movie’s healthy box office earnings, but the curious thing about The Angry Birds Movie is that it released in 2016, several years after the Angry Birds fad had run out of steam. Those who remember the Angry Birds mobile game, which first came to prominence during the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, may understand that it was once a massive merchandise train that seemingly took over the world, but by 2016, the world had long since moved on. By that point, smartphone users seemed much more taken with the likes of Clash of Clans, Candy Crush and similarly successful mobile game offerings, while whatever Angry Birds merchandise remained was left to gather dust or fill bargain bins.
Nonetheless, The Angry Birds Movie proved to be a commercial success for Sony Pictures Animation and Rovio Animation, who then boldly decided to double down on the flagging Angry Birds brand by green-lighting a sequel, aptly titled ‘The Angry Birds Movie 2‘. Despite this, and with an entire decade having passed since Angry Birds first took the smartphone world by storm, the fad feels not just dead by this point, but visibly decomposing, with The Angry Birds Movie 2 ultimately making significantly less at the box office than its predecessor did, likely ensuring that it’s the only sequel that this movie series even produces, at least for the big screen. This leaves the follow-up thoroughly clobbered by 2019’s only other video game-inspired movie, that being this past May’s Pokemon: Detective Pikachu from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, a movie that not only easily outclassed the earnings of The Angry Birds Movie 2, but even the earnings of the original The Angry Birds Movie from 2016 to boot!
Even weirder than the mere existence of The Angry Birds Movie 2 however, a sequel following a movie that was already far too late to the Angry Birds party in 2016, is that The Angry Birds Movie 2 actually manages to legitimately improve upon its predecessor in several respects! It’s still nothing truly special, especially when so many of the gags are ridiculous and quite clearly geared towards young children most of all, but in embracing a more unpredictable and scattershot style of humour and storytelling, The Angry Birds Movie 2 manages to be both funnier and more memorable than the original movie was, practically by accident! This sequel is further liberated by actually being able to break away from having to follow the tropes and trappings of the mobile game that originally inspired this movie series as well, making it a really good time for kids, and a surprisingly decent time for adults, even if adults should still keep their expectations in check to some degree.
Most of the core cast from the original The Angry Birds Movie make a return in The Angry Birds Movie 2, most notably Red, Chuck and Bomb, who are once again voiced by Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Danny McBride, respectively. Also returning is Bill Hader’s King Leonard, the leader of the antagonistic pig faction that serve as the enemies of the birds, both of whom are caught in a persistent, “Prank war” with one another after the events of the first movie, in what’s honestly a pretty funny bit of modern political satire. There are some other returning principal cast members from The Angry Birds Movie as well, such as Maya Rudolph’s Matilda, who is now barely featured in the sequel for some reason, as well as Peter Dinklage’s Mighty Eagle, who has since been outed as a fraud, but is nonetheless roped along with the other protagonists, after both the birds’ and pigs’ islands come under threat by a larger, more dangerous foe.
This foe is Zeta, voiced by Leslie Jones, a miserable purple eagle who ekes out an uncomfortable living on the frozen Eagle Island, where Mighty Eagle was originally from. Surprisingly, Zeta is perhaps Jones’ funniest film role to date as well, being a combination of truly conniving and emotionally unhinged, and sporting a surprisingly sympathetic character arc that nonetheless keeps her firmly in the realm of ridiculous cartoon villainy. With the introduction of Eagle Island also comes yet more new characters for the eagle faction as well, between Tiffany Haddish’s Debbie, Eugenio Derbez’s Glenn, and David Dobrik’s Axel, all of whom play various comic roles in Zeta’s operation.
As you can imagine though, most of the characters are not truly developed much in this sequel, and that’s likely a side effect of the fact that there are a ridiculous amount of characters in this movie! I haven’t even named some of the other new additions yet either, between Sterling K. Brown’s gadget expert pig, Garry, Awkwafina’s defiant assistant to Leonard, Courtney, and Rachel Bloom’s Silver, a brainy bird sibling to Chuck, who ends up being the main love interest for Red. Bloom actually ends up being one of the highlights of this movie’s superb voiceover cast too, nicely compensating for Chuck, Bomb and Mighty Eagle being pushed into the background for the sake of silly gags (which honestly feels like a smart decision, after how they turned out in the first movie!), by injecting most of whatever honest heart The Angry Birds Movie 2 can muster. The rest of said heart is reserved for Red, who struggles with a fairly relatable hero complex, and anxiety over eventually being alone and forgotten after his accomplishments, which almost feels like a meta premonition relating to the Angry Birds franchise as a whole, now that the world has moved on from it.
Still, this doesn’t change the fact that The Angry Birds Movie 2 has way too many characters in it, most of which are simply there to either add more disposable faces to the three islands, or add more recognizable names to the cast list. This also means that some characters who did work well in the original movie, most notably Terence (who is no longer voiced by Sean Penn, but is instead given a bit role by voice actor, Nolan North in this sequel), unfortunately get most of their screentime cut in The Angry Birds Movie 2, simply because there are so many characters fighting for attention in this sequel. The movie even takes several breaks from its main storyline to focus on am almost entirely disconnected subplot, revolving around some of the young children of Terence and Matilda (I guess they became a couple after the events of the first movie?), who end up losing some of their unhatched siblings, and have to get them back before their parents find out. There’s definitely a sense of going for broke throughout the personalities of The Angry Birds Movie 2, but even if the cast is overstuffed, they do at least manage to effectively amuse audiences of all ages, even if children will probably get the best mix of laughs.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 feels much more free-thinking and creatively distinct than its predecessor, now that it can carve out its own direction within this series’ cinematic world, rather than being overly concerned with trying to replicate the style and experience of the mobile game that originally inspired these movies. It also helps that The Angry Birds Movie 2 generally seems to be trying harder than its predecessor right from the script stage as well, with jokes that feel a little fresher, and obstacles and character moments that feel better thought-out and executed. There’s still a good chunk of gags that fail, especially for adult viewers, but they’re swept away so quickly, and constantly refreshed by the furious pace of new, unexpected and off-the-wall jokes. that even older viewers will find themselves chuckling and engaged, so long as they’re at least trying to enjoy themselves.
Ultimately, The Angry Birds Movie 2 still spins a storyline that’s aiming more for children than adults, especially considering the sometimes awkward, disjointed way that it’s told, but at least the writing never settles into a consistent gear of apathetic boredom, which the original The Angry Birds Movie sometimes did. Without spoilers, there are some truly laugh-out-loud moments in The Angry Birds Movie 2, particularly on Eagle Island, where the bulk of the freshest and most enjoyable humour is often presented. As much as it doesn’t always flow well with the overall narrative, the subplot with the bird children manages to get some good laughs too, even for adults! The storytelling throughout The Angry Birds Movie 2 may be very scattershot, and it may initially follow the frequent movie sequel cliche of the protagonists and antagonists of the first movie having to team up against a threat to both of them, but at least this storyline feels like it’s trying a lot harder than the storyline of the first movie was, compensating for its handful of failed gags with a surprisingly likable sense of gusto.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 completely swaps out the first movie’s directors, with Thurop Van Orman now taking over for the bulk of directing duties in this sequel, and John Rice assisting with some of the directing duties as well. This director change likely explains why The Angry Birds Movie 2 feels so distinct from its predecessor, now being more unhinged and off-the-wall, rather than feeling very generic and disposable like the first movie did. The Angry Birds Movie 2 still ultimately feels like a fleeting distraction, but at least it carries more conviction and bizarre passion than its predecessor ever did, clearly taking inspiration from successful modern kids’ cartoons like Adventure Time and The Powerpuff Girls, which main director, Van Orman previously helped write for.
It perhaps also helps that co-director, Rice has a lot of experience with doing animation and direction for adult-oriented animated shows as well, including King of the Hill, Bob’s Burgers, Rick & Morty, and even The Simpsons Movie. This might explain why The Angry Birds Movie 2 feels more inspired and effectively biting than its toothless predecessor did, managing to engage parents as well as children, even if it’s with something of a ‘kitchen sink’ approach. The Angry Birds Movie 2 nonetheless sometimes manages to display a legitimately amusing level of self-awareness however, appearing to be fully sober to the fact that there are parents who are simply suffering through it for the sake of their kids, and that helps to elevate at least a good chunk of the humour. Van Orman’s skill with engaging kids and Rice’s skill with engaging adults thus manages to come together to produce a surprisingly enjoyable animated movie sequel, if also a very scattershot one in terms of how its many ideas are ultimately executed.
MUSIC & SOUNDTRACK
It’s tough to deny that the pop single-filled soundtrack of The Angry Birds Movie 2 is a little irritating on paper. Like the original, this sequel has increasingly tired gags based around childish dance sequences as well, which is quickly becoming the laziest animated movie gag that you can pull out, beyond the catch-all fart joke, of course. To my surprise however, while it is full of pop songs and not at all sophisticated (which one could obviously expect from a sequel to an animated movie that already didn’t feel like it was trying very hard), there are some audio gags throughout the sound design that really do land in The Angry Birds Movie 2. Even some of the pop song choices aren’t terrible, despite that direction usually being a hallmark of animated movie soundtracks that aren’t putting in much of an effort.
Weirdly though, there seems to be a strange sense of manic conviction behind the audio stylings of The Angry Birds Movie 2. The original The Angry Birds Movie sometimes got to be annoying with its directionless hyperactivity and often witless gags, but The Angry Birds Movie 2 comes at you so quickly and so boldly with its humour that, even when the hyper-energized audio doesn’t lend itself well to a joke, another joke will simply follow on its heels. On the note of coming at you hard and fast, there are also not one, but two original pop singles composed for this sequel’s soundtrack to boot, both of which play over the credits. These include Ke$ha’s, “Best Day”, and Luke Combs’, “Let’s Just Be Friends”, which are both pretty generic, fluffy and inoffensive songs, for what that’s worth. It’s ironic however that the pop singles designed specifically to be sold alongside The Angry Birds Movie 2 provide the least interesting element of the movie’s sound design, which is otherwise nicely engaging and not quite as over-the-top annoying as it was in the first movie, even if kids are still going to get the most out of the manic audio here.
As with the original The Angry Birds Movie, one of the best parts of The Angry Birds Movie 2 is definitely its animation and overall visual presentation. The Angry Birds Movie 2 stretches the vibrant visual design template of the first movie even further, presenting interesting new locations and sight gags that manage to be pretty well-executed overall. This is most noticeable upon the icy Eagle Island, where most of the movie’s second half takes place, with Eagle Island exuding surprising detail between its condensation and crystallization especially. Even the ice balls initially hurled towards the birds’ and pigs’ islands look pretty awesome from the jump too! Everything looks very colourful, vibrant and eye-catching in The Angry Birds Movie 2, and the extra varied and detailed animation in this sequel pushes the already-great visuals of the first movie to even more interesting and exciting new heights!
In fact, the only element of the animation that I was annoyed about during my showing of The Angry Birds Movie 2 wasn’t even a fault of the movie itself, and was simply the fact that I couldn’t ultimately see the movie in 3D, which definitely felt like a disappointment. The Angry Birds Movie 2 still looks very colourful and well-rendered when you watch it flat in 2D, but it constantly seems evident that the animation is most often meant to pop and grab you with a pair of 3D glasses, so I’d recommend springing for the 3D cut if you have that option. I can at least say that the visual direction throughout The Angry Birds Movie 2 is pretty great either way though, presenting more well-executed sight gags than much of the first movie, and more of a general sense of creativity behind the environments, particularly now that this sequel doesn’t feel like it’s being forced to rip design elements from the original Angry Birds mobile game. Overall, this movie is another standout testament to the rendering talents of Sony Pictures Animation, as well as Rovio Animation. Hopefully, Rovio Animation in particular are allowed to make something different than yet another Angry Birds movie after this though.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 could have very easily been an insufferable trainwreck, especially considering how virtually worthless the Angry Birds brand is by this point. Where most unnecessary animated movie sequels would have taken the easy way out and gone full tilt towards lowest-common-denominator humour for kids however, The Angry Birds Movie 2 achieves the unlikely feat of actually being better than its 2016 predecessor! It’s still nothing that special, and it will still no doubt appeal mostly to children over adults, but if you’re looking for a movie to take your kids to, or simply want to enjoy an animated movie on your own terms, you’ll get a surprising amount of fun out of The Angry Birds Movie 2, which has far more effort and inspiration behind it than it probably deserves to.
Sure, the brilliantly written, emotional and lovable Toy Story 4 wipes the floor with The Angry Birds Movie 2, though I would at least argue that The Angry Birds Movie 2 manages to achieve more humourous consistency and creativity than The Secret Life of Pets 2 ultimately did. For a mid-to-late August animated movie sequel, The Angry Birds Movie 2 is better than most, even if it no doubt also signals the death of the Angry Birds movie franchise, considering that it’s struggling to make its modest budget back at the box office. Perhaps it’s best that Sony and Rovio no longer press their luck with a franchise that has clearly lost all of its steam by 2019 though. In fairness, I didn’t think that the Angry Birds franchise as a whole was ultimately capable of churning out a product that was even half-decent anymore, but I guess The Angry Birds Movie 2 at least managed to prove me wrong there. I don’t think it’s a trick that could possibly be repeated in a third go-around though.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 surprisingly manages to be significantly better than its mediocre predecessor, delivering scattershot, but effectively amusing humour and adventure.
MUSIC & SOUNDTRACK
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THE GOOD STUFF
Energetic, creative and unpredictable humour
Fun, charming performances throughout the new and returning cast
Animation remains colourful and gorgeous
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
Some of the jokes still have trouble landing for adults