The unimpressive box office results for the Angry Birds sequel formed part of a limp summer for sequels; with that in mind, this critic skipped the first Angry Birds Movie on Netflix to head straight for the second instalment. The question was; do modern sequels work as stand-alone films? The answer was a resounding no.
Watching Angry Birds 2 with no prior information is to witness a baffling, Godardian soup of colourful shapes, cartoon images, pop culture needles drops and familiar SNL voices. Red (Jason Sudeikis) is a red bird who lives on an island of diverse birds. Their neighbours and rivals the green pigs announce a truce so they can join forces against Zeta (Leslie Jones), a giant eagle spurned in love by Mighty Eagle (Bill Hader). Despite his various hang-ups, illustrated by an abortive speed-dating event, Red and his gang try to infiltrate Eagle Island to stop Zeta.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 has such a roster of talent involved that almost none of the characters stick, and the micro-plotting for each character is hard to follow. And yet, in the second half of the film there’s some inspired slapstick, including a set piece involving a collapsing eagle costume and a public urinal that’s probably the funniest moment in 2019 cinema so far. And Leslie Jones, often resistibly shrill in SNL, knocks it out of the park with Zeta’s voice, making her both abrasive and sympathetic.
There’s a lot of talent here, but the assumption that the first film will front-load audiences with relevant information is overplayed. It’s nice to see Zeta and Mighty Eagle put aside their issues and finally get married, a moment scored to the Turtles anthem Happy Together. The song accidentally evokes memories of a prominent place in Wong Kar-wai’s 1997 gay arthouse film which tooks it’s name from the track; the nagging take-away is an Angry Birds movie shouldn’t require the same concentration levels as the work of a Chinese visionary.