Friday, May 20, 2016

Angry Birds [2016]

MPAA (PG)  CNS/USCCB (A-II)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (D)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars for the goofiness, 1 Star for the "left-wing" content / messaging ;-| )

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (K. Jenson) review
ChicagoTribune (K. Walsh) review (S. Wloszczyna) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review  

Angry Birds [2016] (Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, screenplay by Jon Vitti based on the video game) is a film that could make a lot of [Adults] angry ;-) or :-/ ... ;-).

Yes, it does _a really good job_ in explaining some of the oddities of the _really successful_ but "really odd" video game that it is based on: why does one _need_ to use a slingshot to hurl _birds_ (don't birds generally fly?) at _green colored pigs_ (why green?  why pigs?) in a battle over _eggs_ (okay, they're the birds' eggs but why did "pigs" want to steal them)?

The birds live on an isolated island presumably in the Pacific.  So in the absence of predators, as in the case of New Zealand's Kiwis, the birds have found no real reason / need to fly.  Then why "green colored pigs"?  Well, they arrive from another (far off) island, and they do seem to be, even at their best, rather ill mannered (like "pigs") and then rather greedy ("green...").   They come to the birds' island ultimately to steal their eggs ... hence producing an island full of really "angry birds" ;-).

 That all said, the film "says" more ... Strangely, bizarrely, perhaps even somewhat amusingly and certainly in part _infuriatingly_ the film becomes a pro-Communist (!? ;-) parable.  Say what? Seriously, hear me out ;-) :

The HERO of the story is a RED bird (voiced by Jason Sudaikis) marginalized and dismissed by the other birds of the island as being a rather "hot-tempered" / "angry" bird.  He is the ONLY bird who was suspicious of "the pigs" right from the moment that they arrived (on a sailing ship from their island).  Okay, when they arrived they blithely "dropped anchor" right on top of his, RED'S, house (at the edge of the birds' town) demolishing it in the process.  So right from the get go, RED was _not_ "a happy bird."

Then the birds of the island WORSHIPED a "legendary" STILL FLYING bird named "the Mighty Eagle" who supposedly lived at the top of the cliffs of a volcanic outcrop on their island.  Since the other birds NO LONGER FLEW no one's ever seen this "Mighty Eagle" for generations, but they still believed that he was there, perched on those "high cliffs" protecting their Island (really World, for they knew no other) from would be "Enemies."  That GOD-LIKE Eagle was portrayed in the film as A GREAT BALD EAGLE.  So he served as a symbol of _both_ GOD and THE UNITED STATES in this story ...

So becoming ever more suspicious of these raucous ill-behaved "pigs" (more of them arriving by the boatload each day), RED along with his "buddies" (of sorts)  from his "anger management group" (voiced by Josh Gad, Danny McBride, SEAN PEAN ;-) and led by white plumed yoga-like instructor (voiced by Maya Rudolph) decide to "climb the heights" to find said MIGHTY EAGLE to ask for his help / (divine-like) intervention.

Well when they arrive, they find said "Mighty Eagle" (voiced by Peter Dinklage ;-) decidedly UNIMPRESSIVE.  He's grown fat, lazy, arguably _flightless_ as well, still stuck-on / holding onto "past glory."

Now dear Readers CHOOSE how to interpret said (fat, lazy, still holding onto the glories of his past) "Mighty Eagle" -- Does he represent GOD or AMERICA?   Which interpretation would offend you less??

Partly to his horror "Red" realizes: "The fate of the world's gonna depend on 'idiots like us'" ;-) which I have to say is a rather _amusing_ way encapsulate some of the more memorable lines from Karl Marx' (heck "Red" even has Groucho Marx' eyebrows ;-) Communist Manifesto notably that "religion is the opiate of the people" and "workers (here 'birds') of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains."   

I have to say that it all reminds me of an (in)famous mural that leftist Mexican muralist Diego Rivera had painted to much controversy back in the 1930s.  In said piece entitled "Man at the Crossroads" originally commissioned BY THE ROCKEFELLERS for their newly constructed Rockefeller Center in New York, he painted "a worker" at the controls of a massive mechanical contraption that would decide History.  (I referred to said mural and the story behind it in a recent review of a recently released Franco-Russian film by Russian director Aleksandr Sukharov entitled Francofonia [2016] in which Sukharov might have been doing a similar thing to the French backers of his film as Rivera was trying to do to the Rockefellers).   ANYWAY, from the moment I saw said mural by Rivera, safely exhibited if "in Exile" at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, I immediately imagined Homer Simpson at said controls ;-).  

And I do find it amusing that the screenwriter here of the current film is Jon Vitti who actually made his mark first writing for The Simpsons [1989-] ;-) 

Anyway, "Red" as a no nonsense, angry-bird like Bernie Sanders ;-) ... "leads" the other birds in their siege of the Pigs' home island and with _late_ help of "The Mighty Eagle" helps free (liberate) the birds' eggs (hence returning to them a promising /peaceful future).

Now folks, I've spent _a lot of time_ over the past several years decrying the rather right-wing and RACIST messaging of a fair number of recent American children's animated films, notably that present in Hop [2011], Hoodwinked Too [2011] and Despicable Me 2 [2013].  What then to say about the current left-wing perhaps honestly Communist apologist film based on a FINNISH video game and sponsored by JAPANESE (Sony) money? ;-)

I suppose, honestly -- left and right -- please "Leave the kids alone."

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