Movie of the Year Pick For 2016
By Billy Roper
Over the Christmas weekend, my family and I enjoyed several movies together, from the traditional Holiday classics A Miracle on 34th Street, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Ernest Saves Christmas, and It’s a Wonderful Life, to my personal pick for 2016 movie of the year, The Angry Birds Movie. Wait, what? Hold up, right?
I know, being surrounded at best by people whom, if they know who and what we are, practice the cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy of reciting to us their own long-reserved litany of racial remarks in a cathartic release, before denying actually being racist or understanding why we see the world as we do, it’s easy enough to grasp at straws. In (current year), any t.v. show or movie which doesn’t feature transgendered pansexual biracial adoptions and at least ten lines of Yiddish in the credits seems downright Alt-Right. But I think I’m not reading too much between the animated lines of this cartoon movie loosely based on the still-trendy smartphone app game when I say, hey, it carried a good lesson. Without too many of the adult joke innuendoes which make so many ostensibly children’s movies awkward to watch with the family (for those still masterbuilding to the Lego movie), this animated feature is a good egg. Better yet, its morale, from my perch, has a real sunny side. Work with me here:
Red is a disgruntled, cynical, disillusioned bird. Underneath his hard shell, though, he’s pretty scrambled. Something of a recluse, he’s nearly downright anti-social, as far as the nesting community goes, and doesn’t fit in. But he’s not as hard-boiled as he seems. Now, this is not a regurgitated Aesop’s fable. In the kumbaya kingdom of Bird Island, Red calls out the authorities and the establishment for being fakes and liars, while the cuck-a-doodle-do avians are all shocked by his inappropriate rage. In fact, after exposing a charlatan judge, Red gets sentenced to Anger Management class. He had ruffled the wrong feathers, this time. About then I started thinking that this Finnish-created project was going to melt away into a harmless animated version of an Adam Sandler movie, but I was surprised. You will be, too.
The anger management class is run by a liberal hippie chick. Big whoop, right? But the anthropomorphic fun takes a political turn when strangers show up. They’re green pigs from another island who claim to come in peace, but Red, jaded bird that he is, doesn’t trust them. While the new visitors come preaching brotherhood and acceptance and love, they seem to be hiding just how many of themselves there are, as well as their true intentions. Then, they keep coming, and coming, and coming, ship after ship. The immigrants lull most of the birds into complacency by providing new and exciting entertainment and exotic distractions. The cultural enrichment continues, even after Red and two fellow-doubters begin to uncover the downside of immigration. The bird judge and sheriff bird turn on Red and his friends, chastising them for “making their guests uncomfortable”. The bird sheriff, by the way, looks remarkably like Angela Merkel. A group called “Hamnesty International” starts building homes for the new arrivals. Things get ugly when it’s revealed that the newcomers don’t come in peace seeking a better life after all. In fact, they’re there to steal the most obvious symbols of the birds’ futures, their very bloodline, their eggs.
Red and his angry bird allies seek the help of the legendary Great Eagle, who turns out to be less of a fearless hero and leader than they’ve been hatched to believe. In the end, spoiled egg alert, the birds invade the land which the immigrants came from, take back their future, and blow the pigs up into bacon strips. During the climactic battle one of the invaders’ armored cars even features a prominent “tolerance” bumper sticker. My jaw dropped.
Astounded, I kept waiting for the surviving pigs to see the error of their ways, or for a faction of good pigs to revolt and overthrow their porcine Muslim-bearded dictator, but it never happened. There was no “not all pigs are bad, some are just like us” caveat to take the curse off of the blatantly anti-immigrant, anti-refugee message. The Angry Birds Movie ended with the anti-immigrant activists becoming heroes, in fact, as the anger management class students ultimately save the day. There is so much obvious symbolism present that it could not all be accidental.
One strange thing about Bird Island is that all of the residents except their overrated hero are flightless, but only when they get angry do they learn to soar. They lose faith in their lazy, self-absorbed icon, before deciding to get the job done on their own. Are you listening to their song? And no, I don’t mean the Limp Bizkit version of Behind Blue Eyes, either. The truth is often hard to swallow, but we have to keep pecking away, as a cardinal rule.
Since the green pig invaders do come bearing gifts and introduce some technological innovations like TNT, sling-shots, and helium balloons, some might be tempted to think of this as an anticolonialism movie, and they’re welcome to do so, if they wish. Despite the best efforts of liberals, though, I believe the narrative of immigrants and refugees has shifted so much in our favor during 2016 that most viewers will be more likely to birdwatch the cute little cartoon as I did, as a repudiation of Merkel and Obama’s open door policies.
The fearless leader, Mighty Eagle, (the United States) claims that he wasn’t lazy but instead deliberately made the birds lose faith in him so they could find faith in themselves. Whatever, dude, the job got done. During the closing credits it is revealed a small number of the immigrants did survive the war, but rather than becoming good little piggies, they’re still plotting stealing the birds’ future, true to their piggy nature. Then the three fledgling bluebirds Red saved from certain death as Piggy Island blew up are seen launching themselves into the sky.
The Angry Birds Movie grossed $107.5 million in North America and $242.2 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $349.7 million. Worldwide, it is the second highest-grossing video game film of all-time, behind Warcraft ($433.5 million).
I’m sure that the Jewish and liberal actors who did the voice-overs for the birds and pigs won’t agree with my assessment. As with most on the mainstream reviewers, what I feel to be the true insinuation of The Angry Birds Movie, at least unconsciously and subliminally, might be, wait for it…over their heads. But for this viewer, watching it on a family Christmas Eve night, the animated app movie was all about the merits of giving wings to your anger.
Take back your eggs. Let fly your angry bird.
Looking for an image to accompany this article, I found that, indeed, polarized minds think alike:
Well, how did I miss this cartoon, and the surrounding controversy about it, all year long? I need to watch more kids’ movies, I guess.
Birds of a feather, flock together.