In a year where dragons, Lego, toys and pets have had their run with animated sequels, who’d have thought that The Angry Birds Movie 2 – a sequel to the 2016 adaptation of the popular video game – would take the cake as the most joyous animated comedy of 2019.
Having saved the offspring of Bird Island (a bird watcher’s paradise filled with flightless birds who project themselves with slingshots as a mode of travel) from becoming the dinner of neighbouring carnivorous pigs, the feuding animals must now unite to face an enemy who possesses a diabolical weapon of mass destruction.
Beneath the fluffy and vibrant exterior of The Angry Birds Movie 2 is a heartfelt story that touches on loneliness, gender and forgiveness. Red (a wonderfully sour Jason Sudeikis), now welcomed by his community, surfaces feelings of despondency over concerns that an intelligent bird named Silver (Rachel Bloom) will risk his standing in the community. He takes great pride in his bravery and fears that being incapable of protecting Bird Island from invaders would once again result in his isolation.
Red is the heart, soul and tailfeather of the film. His arc, growing from bitter loner to insecure hero throughout the two films, is explored with such consideration that it propels the film head and shoulders above its predecessor in terms of character development. Where the original film was reliant on integrating facets of the app into the story, some more sensical than others, The Angry Birds Movie 2 does not let IP nor a checklist of references to the game obstruct the narrative. This being said, efforts from the filmmakers to spice up the film with a side story involving adorable big-eyed hatchlings rescuing their siblings does dawdle; resembling Scrat from Ice Age (2002) and the Minions from Despicable Me (2010) in terms of their inclusion being an opportunity to sell plush toys.
Thurop Van Orman makes his directorial debut with The Angry Birds Movie 2 in which he crafts a wholesome film that widely acknowledges the parents in the cinema. He does this not only by upping the humour stakes, which he knocks out of the park courtesy of a buzzing soundtrack that delivers many of the punchlines (a reference to ‘90s teen drama a standout), and by allowing the film to be more than just a reference to the game. The fruit of his labour resulting in a zany ‘60s inspired heist-spy crossbreed. This is most evident with the inclusion of newcomer Leslie Jones and her menacing villain Zeta; a towering and diabolical violet-coloured bird who looks like an extra from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (1986). She is as boisterous as her presence on SNL and as forthcoming as she is cold.
New additions to the series other than Jones and Bloom include Awkwafina, Tiffany Haddish and Sterling K. Brown. Their inclusion improves on what is an already stellar returning cast lead by Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Josh Gad and Danny McBride.
The arms race to have the most kaleidoscopic and vibrant animated film continues, with The Angry Birds Movie 2 entering the competition with a visually stunning concoction that looks like the output of mixing crayons in a blender. This, in addition to the improvements in humour and impeccable casting, reinvigorates a series with newfound potential. A total hoot.
Awkwafina, who voices Courtney in the film, had also starred in the film Crazy Rich Asians (2018). One of the eagle guards in this film is shown reading a book titled, “Crazy Rich Avians”.