There's some real nice texturing, that's what there is. I mean, real nice textures. In the extreme close-ups of the birds' bodies (of which there aren't all that many, but enough to make the point), you can see feathers that have been individually delineated, and even barbs that have been individually delineated, all of them moving slightly differently. Which I guess isn't texturing, technically - it's even more impressive than simply good texturing. But anyways, you could get lost in those feathers. It's miraculously good, right up at the level that any studio in the business of 3-D CGI animated movies in 2016 is capable of. God bless those feathers.

And I'm spent, that's all I've got that's nice to say about The Angry Birds Movie.

Based on the 2009 smart phone game that was all the rage in 2010 and 2011, The Angry Birds Movie would have been terrible even if it managed to come out during the period of time when society might have been interested in it. Instead, it's both terrible and deeply pathetic. The script by Jon Vitti (a veteran of not one but two Alvin and the Chipmunks pictures, so he knows what's up) draws from the deepest well of clichΓ©s of what children's cinema can be and do, marries that to "for the parents" gags that are objectionable in every way, and naturally enough drags itself to the point where it recreates the gameplay of Angry Birds in something resembling an appropriate narrative context. I'm being harsh - truth be told, the point at which the film spends about six or eight minutes re-creating the game is done pretty substantially well; in the disreputable annals of movies based upon video games, I can't offhand think of one that recreates the specifics of its source material with such happy verve. Nope, there sure is hell is a giant slingshot, and birds are launched from that slingshot towards a series of rickety wooden structures full of green pigs, destroying the structures and clobbering the pigs. Some of the birds have unique abilities, like blowing up or shooting luminous egg-like projectiles. The film is content not to explain why.

The movie is, in effect, a prequel to the game. There is an island full of birds, Bird Island, where everybody is tremendously happy. The only exception is Red (Jason Sudeikis, not trying in the slightest), a sullen misanthrope (misavianist?) who lives alone on the beach and responds to the endless cheery exhortations of the other birds with withering sarcasm and self-superiority. You could almost go so far as to call Red an angry bird. If you don't, have no fear, the movie's indecently happy to do it for you.

Red has a job as a children's clown, of course, because he's sullen nihilist, and one particularly unpleasant run-in with a client lands him in court, where the owl judge (Keegan-Michael Key), apparently the only representative of any sort of government on Bird Island, sentences him to the most severe punishment available in that society: anger management class. Here, Red meets four of those novelty birds: yellow Chuck (Josh Gad) moves fast, black Bomb (Danny McBride) explodes when he gets angry, and Terence (Sean Penn, for the tiny number of non-verbal utterances the character is given) is enormous and surly. The class is taught by the overclocked white bird Matilda (Maya Rudolph). Please understand, this whole entire act of the film exists solely to motivate the title: when the time comes to save the day, outcast Red will have to find a way to use the exact trait that makes him an outcast in order to inspire the rest of his community to follow his lead against their common enemy. That whole boilerplate bullcrap. I don't suppose that the whole "the thing that makes you different from other people is actually what makes you important" line is necessarily awful, though Lord knows it gets trotted out far too often in far too many generic kiddie flicks. But when the specific argument is in favor of being ill-tempered and prone to violent outbursts... it's weird. I shan't call it "bad", but it sure as hell is weird.

So eventually, Bird Island is visited by a mechanized pirate ship full of green pigs, led by the charismatic blowhard Leonard (Bill Hader), and everybody but Red greets them with open arms. He, alone, thinks something reeks to high heaven, and of course he's right, and here's the point where your personal politics, along with how uncharitable you want to be towards the movie, dictate whether this is a metaphor for immigration or colonialism. Either way, the pigs are bad news, and when they abscond to Piggy Island with all of the birds' nests, it's up to Red to save the day by making his ridiculously cheerful neighbors learn how to be... angry birds.

This is all utter trash, of course, far above and beyond how lifelessly formulaic it is. The humor is repulsively bottom-feeding: lots of snot gags, including one about people sneezing right into your popcorn and all over your face at the movies, which seems like literally the worst possible joke to put into a project that people are going to watch at commercial movie theaters. A lot of it is about sex in a really elliptical but tremendously gross way. You know, for the parents. Frequently, the film jams on the brakes for a musical interlude and/or montage, including a mystifying cowboy-themed revue the pigs put on for no obvious reason other than because the producers had arranged for country artist Blake Shelton to contribute an original song, and something needed to motivate it. That's still closer to the best song cue than the worst, in a soundtrack that includes "Sound of da Police" and "Rock You Like a Hurricane". This movie was made for preteens in 2016. The worst part of it all is a cover of The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" recorded by Limp Bizkit that has existed for 13 years, and yet I was completely unaware of it until Angry Birds came along to despoil my innocence. Fuck Angry Birds.

Hardly any member of the cast gives a shit: the reliably shrill Gad is the only one of the leads who feels like he's putting any effort into his character's personality, and the only actually good performance is by Peter Dinklage as the braggart demigod Mighty Eagle. The film also manages to waste a whole lot of TV comedy ringers: Hannibal Buress, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Tony Hale, Tituss Burgess, and Ike Barinholtz all pop up to voice characters with as few as two or three lines.

Still and all, the film is derivative crap with no intentions but to insult the audience of the children stuck watching it: but it looks okay. It's a collaboration between Sony Imageworks and the newly-formed theatrical animation wing of Rovio, the company that made the game in the first place, and while it's obviously the case that Rovio isn't making another movie ever again (because in a kind and loving universe, there of course will not be a sequel to this film SHUT UP I'M TRYING OPTIMISM), I can't say I'd mind if there was. The film has bold, attractive colors, and interestingly varied character designs on the birds. The pigs are ugly as sin. But even they're kind of well-animated, all squishy and rubbery. I mean to say by all of this: the problem with The Angry Birds Movie isn't that it's ugly. It's actually pretty solid animation. That is all it is, but it's something.