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I think transparency is pretty important, don't you?
First, to be clear, I am not this film's target audience. I am neither a little kid, a parent of a little kid who wants to make them happy, or a person who has played the game the film, and the merchandising empire around the film, is based on beyond a few cursory tryouts.
I am also predisposed to hate it. After all, when it came out, I happily enjoyed the excellent Kubo and the Two Strings in an almost empty theater, and then later in the year found out that that film didn't even make its budget back while this one, a film I'd dismissed as probably a lazy cash grab even at the time, raked in over two hundred million dollars in profit. Not revenue, profit. So yeah, there's an old grudge and resentment there.
But, while I was washing dishes in the sink because the dishwasher was broken, my visiting brother and his new family popped it on in the next room, and I was made to see the majority of it.
Taken on its own merits, it's aggressively mediocre. The character designs are, while still a bit cartoony, covered in "realistic" feather textures or green fur, as a symptom of generic Hollywoodization. The script, while it has a few moments of wit, is honestly mostly generic snark that could be in any movie. The plot is... well, it's threadbare, but this kind of film was hardly going to live or die on the plot. The performances are eh, mostly the work of slumming Hollywood guys rather than actual trained voice talent, and poor Peter Dinkledge just proves once again that those are not interchangeable skillsets.
But, these things make it just another disposable, commercial film, rather than the kind of movie that actually made me angry. No, what made me angry was the themes.
Yeah, that's right! Themes! In a dumb, cash-grab kids movie! Deal with it!
See, here's the thing. The game it's based on has the very definition of an Excuse Plot. The filmmakers could choose any sequence of events that could possibly lead to a bunch of variously-colored birds with obnoxiously-telegraphed specific qualities throwing themselves at a poorly-constructed building full of green pigs while trying to snag eggs, and they chose to make a story in which immigrants are actually a cabal of conniving con-men, here to corrupt the youth with their culture, be rude and make no apologies for destroying your property values, and literally steal and eat your children. And in which everyone is sorry they didn't listen to the paranoid man with anger issues who dislikes them on the grounds that they negatively impact his well-being, apologizing to him en-masse, reaffirming that he was right in his arbitrary hatred and they were wrong for being tolerant and open-minded.
Now I can see, in a vacuum, what this was probably meant to be. After all, it's an island of flightless birds being tricked and cheated by a bunch of technologically-superior people who don't think of them as deserving rights. If anything, it was probably originally intended as a satire of colonialism, rather than immigration. But this is absolutely a situation where the intent and the result are two very-different things, because what it came out as is a film tailor-made to reaffirm the worldview of the kinds of people who are presently opening fire on crowds of helpless screaming minorities across my country.
Yeah, I went there!
Taken on its own merits, it's a bland, dime-a-dozen film you can get a better version of on any of the various streaming services you already own. In context, it's literally making the world a worse place and teaching children the building blocks of xenophobia and bigotry.
Don't see this movie, don't see the sequel, and don't give anything related to this film a red cent of your money more than the hundreds of millions of dollars it already raked in during a year where many legitimately good films died in the cold.
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