The inhabitants of Bird Island and Pig Island aren’t necessarily the best examples of neighborly diplomacy. Lobbing big buckets of noxious refuse at each other from beachside slingshots has the tendency to poke a few pork loins and ruffle a few feathers.
But the fact is, the cranky bird-turned-hero, Red, has become something of a Bird Island celebrity because of his pig-pranking and island-protecting ways. Meanwhile, the oafish porcine leader, Leonard, has to keep his tough-as-a-hog reputation intact, too. So the pranks and squabbling between the two islands must continue.
One day, though, pudgy pig ruler Leonard calls for a truce. Red immediately assumes it’s nothing more than another ham-fisted trick. But it turns out that both bird and bacon now have a bigger mutual threat to worry about.
There’s a strange frozen island on the horizon that’s ruled by a deranged eagle tyrant named Zeta. She wants somewhere warmer to roost, dontcha know. And she also has a secret volcano-like weapon that can launch gigantic icy projectiles in the direction of Red and Leonard’s nearby islands.
Looks like it’s time for these former enemies to work together if they don’t want to end up working as cabana boys for a purple-plumed villainess.
After Red and Leonard team up to face their new mutual threat, Red calls in his best buds—super-speedy Chuck and emotionally explosive Bomb—to lend a little manpower to their save-the-day mission. Chuck also taps his engineer-minded sister, Silver. Together they make a solid team, and they demonstrate to young viewers that even the most polar opposites can learn to work together as they take risks and are willing to make sacrifices to save their islands.
In fact, Red and Silver make a really great duo, even though they initially kinda hate each other. But they learn to live with each other’s foibles and to rely on each other’s strengths. And when they all go back to Bird Island and the residents cheer their local hero Red, he chooses to give the credit all to Silver and her engineering smarts. Eventually the whole crew shares the accolades.
That’s an important step for Red. He was afraid that no one would like him if he wasn’t the center of attention, that he’d slip back into being seen as the outcast he once was. But with Silver’s help, Red realizes that if he simply focuses on being a bird with a good and caring heart, others will naturally appreciate him.
A young bird chick is horrified when three unhatched eggs float out to sea, and she says, “I want my unborn sisters back.”
[Spoiler Warning] That lesson applies, in a way, to the ice-island villainess Zeta, too. Turns out she was a pretty angry bird herself because she had been heartlessly slighted by someone she loved years before. She carried her bitterness and anger for a long time and literally tortured those around her because of it—excusing her selfish behavior as “putting myself first.” But Zeta, too, learns to forgive and let go, and in doing so becomes a better individual and mom.
During a speed-dating activity, Red notes that one of the female birds he meets is probably “a witch.” One character is shown wearing an ankh, a cross-like hieroglyphic symbol with an oval at the top that represented the idea of the breath of life in ancient Egypt. We also see a pro-Red billboard that reads, “WWRD,” an obvious play on the acronym “WWJD” (“What Would Jesus Do?”). One character asks Red, “What’s your favorite sign,” which seems to be a reference to the signs of the Zodiac but is in fact a literal reference to the many signs on Bird Island praising his heroism. Elsewhere, there’s a joking reference to a “genie in a bottle.”
It turns out that Zeta and the Bird Island hero Mighty Eagle were once engaged. But Mighty Eagle jilted her at the altar. We also learn that they had a daughter out of wedlock. (This is subtly played, without any direct sexual allusions. But it’s still a pretty major element considering the kid audience this pic is aimed at.)
The film puts (generally unclothed) pig characters in spandex and tiny G-string swimsuits on occasion for an extra giggle, with Right Said Fred’s song “I’m Too Sexy” playing for added emphasis. But dressing them also inadvertently puts more emphasis on the bareness of their bottoms, something the camera eyes with glee. A female character wears a pair of coconuts on her chest as well. Two characters eventually marry, though their wedding kiss takes place offscreen.
Red, Chuck and Bomb go to a speed-dating club and meet female birds. (Chuck won’t tell Red where they’re going, but he says suggestively that it’ll be a “night of fun.”) There are a few very mild sexual winks in their conversations, including references to “mating season” and a “mating dance.” Somoene describes speed dating as a “love lottery.” Chuck is very protective of his sister around Red, always warning his friend to keep his “feathers off her.” Red and Silver seem to have some romantic feelings for each other by film’s end. Someone also makes a reference to “lovebirds.” When a bit of action ends up accidentally tossing Silver on top of Red, someone asks snarkily what they’re doing.
There’s a conversation about gender roles in which Zeta complains about being a “strong female” in a world of males who aren’t manly and secure enough to deal with her powerful personality.
Chuck, Leonard and several other characters dress up in a makeshift disguise, with all of them together impersonating an eagle, while sneaking around the ice-island base. They follow an eagle guard into the bathroom to steal his keycard. And in a prolonged scene while standing at a urinal (with the guard bird urinating there all the while) the film plays on the fact that the disguised team members appear to be doing weirdly inappropriate things next to the other bird. (They stand behind him at one point, making the urinating eagle rightly nervous about what’s happening.) To make things seem more natural, Chuck starts spitting water through the crotch of their costume in a scene that’s silly but a bit crude.
A chihuahua in a frozen block of ice has an odd (but innocent) romantic relationship of sorts with a seal. We hear the Sarah McLachlan song “In the Arms of a Stranger.” Twice we hear Eric Carmen’s 1975 hit “All by Myself,” which, though being a romance song, is actually used to humorously look at Red’s sense of isolation at various points in his life.
We see a number of embarrassing selfies Leonard has taken of himself, including one that emphasizes his piggy backside as he makes a face for the camera. Characters also draw a pig’s head on Leonard’s sizeable back and rear, with the pig’s tongue coming out of his backside.
Leonard tells Red that the pigs have used drones to spy on Bird Island. That prompts Red to ask nervously (and suggestively), “Have you seen me—.” Leonard interrupts him before he can finish, saying, “Yes, and it’s disgusting.”
Plenty of tumbling, stumbling pratfalls and explosions and such mingle into this pic’s manic mix. Giant ice balls filled with lava smash through buildings and village huts, in several cases causing large tidal waves. At times, that violence is a bit intense (though it seems no one is really the worse for wear). Someone threatens, “I’ll crush every bone in your body.”
A trio of small chicks goes off on a separate adventure, trying to save several bird eggs that accidentally floated out to sea on a raft. The birds get pummeled about and snapped at by larger predators. And at one point, they’re launched into space and then burst into flame (comedically, of course) when reentering the atmosphere. They encounter a large boa constrictor, and we hear their sounds of struggle with it behind a bush. The birds soon stride out wearing snakeskin boots, belts and hats. “Well, that just got dark,” one of the chicks notes. [Spoiler Warning] Later, however, we learn that they didn’t actually kill the snake, as the earlier scene implies.
Zeta has a tendency to torture underlings who don’t quickly do her bidding. We see several victims encased in ice or hung up with their hands and feet frozen in ice. An eagle accidentally thumps into bathroom stall doors and smashes face-first through porcelain sinks and a urinal, bending his beak, blackening his eyes and knocking out several … teeth?
We hear several uses each of the exclamations “oh crap,” “oh my gosh,” “Are you freakin’ kidding me?” and “What the heck?” One character has an odd way of repeatedly saying, “Oh my gah” in a way that’s not quuite a misuse of God’s name, but not very far from it. There’s an unfinished “what the …,” and someone notes, “He’s got some flippin’ nerve.” In addition, we hear a few references to “butts.” Namecalling includes “fat dude” and “ding dong.”
Zeta drinks umbrella-decorated cocktail drinks, one in each wing, as the Jimmy Buffet song “Margaritaville” plays in the backround. We also a bit of Rupert Holmes 1979 hit “Escape (The Piña Colada Song).” Bomb convinces a bunch of eagle guards to join him at a bar for beers. And animals drink champagne and cider at a wedding.
In addition to the above-mentioned bathroom scene, the film also includes a number of other pig-on-a-toilet moments and potty humor bits. One of the pig spy gadgets is an anti-inflamatory substance that we learn is actually pig snot. Bomb slowly licks it … and likes it. We’re given the impression that a tiny bird chick is saying nasty things, but his voice is obscured by a honking alarm. We hear a bird belch.
The Athenian philosopher Plato once said, “There are two things a person should never be angry at: what they can help, and what they cannot.” And that simple-but-sincere thought is feathered throughout this kids’ film. And as Samuel Adams once recommended, this movie also suggests that we all “give credit to whom credit is due.”
Those are both nice, friendship-friendly bits of wisdom. Things kids would do well to remember when they head back to school this fall.
That’s not to suggest that The Angry Birds Movie 2 is deep in any way. After all, this is a film based on a once-ubiquitous-but-now-forgotten game that featured launching birds from slingshots. So the film has the slenderest of stories, the broadest of anthropomorphized characters, and it stuffs its cinematic nest with all manner of farcical silliness and slapstick face-plants.
Surprisingly, the whole frenetic animated escapade ends up being pretty entertaining and funny. Even adults will, at some point, snort out an unexpected chortle.
But be forewarned: in exchange for some niceties and giggles, families will have to suffer through more potty humor, and even some surprising innuendo, than parents may have bargained for. One prolonged urinal peeing gag alone will leave many a mom with a major case of parental eye-roll cramp.
“Animals are cute and all, but watch where you’re stepping.” That’s another quote that applies here. (I’m just not sure if that’s Plato or Adams.)
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.