The Angry Birds Movie is in theaters on May 20, 2016
Rovio’s popular Angry Birds may not sound like it enough material to be movie, but get the creative support it needs, then you not only have the makings of a movie, but one that has the potential to be a great one. That’s what Sony is hoping for with The Angry Birds Movie.
Based on the popular mobile game of the same name, The Angry Birds Movie features the voice talents of Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Josh Gad and Danny McBride.
That’s IT LA was recently invited to sit down with a group of journalists to cover a special event where we were treated to seeing some footage from the movie and participate in a Q&A with the aforementioned voice talent. As you can imagine, when you bring in comedic geniuses together in one room, it makes for a very fun Q&A. But we also learned a little bit about the story, who these characters are, what hooked the cast to be a part of the film, and much more.
One Happy Little Island Of Flightless Birds.
Producer John Cohen (‘Despicable Me,’ ‘Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs’), who was also the event’s emcee, spoke a little bit about the film’s setting and the characters. While the birds will remain flightless, to help translate these characters into CGI for the movie, they had to be taken “to the next level.” This was accomplished by making the birds, or an animal that is able to stand on two legs. These flightless bipedal birds live on an island where every bird pretty much knows each other. They’ve never saw the need to leave the island, so they don’t know what lies beyond the horizon. They are very comedically naïve. The island is only inhabited by these birds, where everything is built by birds for birds. So everything is at their scale. Buildings have a nest-like quality to them. It is also a very trusting community; so much so these birds don’t even lock their doors. They also live an old-fashioned kind of life. It’s naturalistic and organic. There is no technology, no cell phones – so they cant play Angry Birds themselves. But it is still very much similar to our world where there are crossing guards, yoga classes, and more.
There’s Always That One Bird
But there is that one bird, who isnt as happy as the rest of the flock. Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) is an angry bird. Cohen describes him as the “red dark cloud in a sunny world.” Sudeikis says his character is the “angry man on a ship of fools.”
We see just how angry he can be in the first clip, which is just a montage of his angry reactions. Waiting in a line to get coffee only to be constantly bumped from behind. The bird doesn’t mean anything by it, but Red gives an angry stare that warns her if she does it again, bad things will happen. Red also doesn’t like mimes or being mocked because he has thick black eyebrows.
Of course when you are the only angry bird of the happy flock, it can get you into a bit of trouble, and that’s when Red takes his anger so far that a court hands him the worst possible sentence imaginable. He has to take anger management classes.
Three Little Birds
There are also three other birds who are taking anger management classes. Their names are Chuck (Gad), Bomb (McBride), and Terance.
Chuck speaks the way he moves, at a very fast pace. He also has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth. He uses his speed to burn off any sort of aggression he might have built. He even has a track in his house so that he can run it off. But as to how he got himself into anger management. Well offers different explanations, but the truth of the matter is that he had a run in with a police officer.
As for Bomb, well he is a bit of a dim bulb, but is best described as a gentle giant. He has an explosive personality. Literally. Whenever he gets angry, he blows up. Even simple acts of kindness like a surprise birthday party will light the fuse and cause him to just blow up. He lives in a bomb shelter.
Terrance is the final bird that we meet in anger management. Terrance is the largest bird of the four. He basically just grunts and groans. No one really knows what he did to get himself into anger management class, and no one really wants to know. But as we see in the film, it is something so terrifying that it has to take place off screen.
This Little Piggy Visited Angry Bird Island
As aforementioned, these birds saw no reason to leave the island. But that doesn’t mean anyone else can stop by for a visit. For those familiar with the game, green pigs are the main antagonists. But these birds do not know that at first. So when the birds see the pigs’ ship stopping on the shores of their beach, they see them as humans would see aliens. These green pigs come in all shapes and sizes and low levels of I.Q. Despite offering their inventions like a trampoline, slingshot, and TNT Red doesn’t trust any of them, in fact and begins to suspect that they have ulterior motives. And despite repeated warnings, the pig hatch a plan to steal the birds’ eggs.
Race To Mighty Eagle’s Mountain
Red, Chuck, and Bomb scale a very intimidating mountain where Mighty Eagle supposedly resides. They believe that they are in the right spot when they discover what is called The Lake Of Wisdom. Chuck and Bomb dive in, drinking the water, even mimic being a fountain. But that’s when the legendary Mighty Eagle – whose presence doesn’t quite live up to his name and suffers a bit of senility – steps out of his cave to spread his wings and relieve himself into the Lake of Wisdom. Red is somewhat relieved that he stayed on dry land, while Chuck and Bomb look in dismay at that fact that the Lake of Wisdom didn’t really live up to its name.
It is then revealed that Mighty Eagle is voiced by Peter Dinkalage. Mighty Eagle is best described as like Batman of the island. The legendary bird even has a statue that stands right in front of the entrance of the courthouse. The birds like to think that he is watching over them, but the reality is that no one has ever seen or heard from him in twenty years.
Search and Rescue.
When the pigs successfully steal the eggs and sail back to their island, Piggy Island, Red rallies the birds to build a raft and use all the inventions against the pigs. Piggy Island is not like the bird’s island though. The structures are built with all the stupidity that you know about the pigs and their structures in the games. They do have something that the other island doesn’t. Live theater featuring Kevin Bacon in their Broadway smash hit Ham-liton. Get it?
In order to bring back their eggs, the birds use their main weapon, the slingshot, in order to break into the castle where the eggs are being stored. It isn’t easy, and through a series of tries, Red, Chuck, Bomb, and Terrance manage to break in.
When Red enters his anger management class he meets his fellow Angry Birds. Matilda (Maya Rudolph) is former angry bird herself who saw the error of her ways, who is almost overcompensating with this calm zen, sweet, hippy dippy demeanor. Yet somewhere deep down inside of her, she’s got her anger bottled up that will break out at the worst possible moment.
Keegan-Michael Key voices a judge who sentences Red to anger management. But the judge isn’t who he appears to be. He is actually a tiny bird who is standing on top of a taller bird. But he hides this by wearing an oversized robe. To give the imposing impression of being an officer of the court.
Kate McKinnon, Hannibal Buress, the YouTube comedy team Smosh, Jillian Bell, and Danielle Brooks also voice various birds.
Tony Hale, Ike Barinholtz, Tituss Burgess, Billy Eichner, and Blake Shelton will voice Green Piggies. They are all led by Lenoard, who is voiced by Bill Hader.
Back in Christmas, Rovio and Sony released a holiday greetings video featuring The Hatchings, fuzzy child-like birds who just have broken out of their egg shells. Little kids from the movie came back to the studio to sing a Christmas Carol. Well they are coming back for an Easter Video, where the creative team asked them to sing Peter Cottontail. None of them knew what or who it was, and what they ended up with is the kids trying to explain what they do during Easter and what gender the Easter Bunny is.
Why the voice cast really got involved.
After the series of clips were done and we finished singing happy birthday to Josh Gad, the Q&A portion of the event started. One of the first questions that was asked was for the talent to describe their characters.
Sudeikis said of Red:
“He’s a contrarian. He’s a little frustrated. He’s definitely a black sheep. You know he reminds me a little bit of Murphy from ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.’ Not to belabor. He’s one of a kind. He definitely sticks out for what we assume are the wrong reasons in the beginning, but by the end he may have been on to something.”
Hader then joked, “This movie is a lot like ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.’ Especially the ending.”
Gad admits that Chuck may have a better metabolism than he does. But he does describe him as a speed demon. “What I was immediately attracted to, aside from the color of his feathers when I signed on, was this idea that he just can’t stop himself. His mind is always going faster than his mouth can keep up with. There is something just so fun about that. It’s just one of those characters that is so fun to play because he’s out of control and he can’t stop himself. I think that is the heart of who he is.”
McBride joked that Bomb is also angry and also a bird. Despite his character’s explosive personality, the actor said that Bomb wants to genuinely improve that. “He wants to be able to focus his anger. He’s embarrassed that he gets so angry and that he can’t control his anger. That’s a lot like me. That’s why I took this role. I explode in therapy.”
Hader said his agent called him to tell him that he was going to play a pig in The ‘Angry Birds Movie.’ Hader said we should just draw our own conclusions. “It’s some David Lynch s***.”
What Gets The Actors Angry
For Sudeikis, he jokes that the film helped him get in touch with his inner anger, and that five-hour sessions of “pretending to be an action hero or yelling and screaming, it does exercise those demons. As does a really long late drunken night of karaoke.”
“I don’t know. Hypothetical equations like reality tv star could be the next President of the United States. Things like that I guess. What makes me angry is being woken up on my birthday when am supposed to be able to sleep and my wife giving me the news that ‘Oh, I have to volunteer at school in an hour, can you watch the kids and Time Warner Cable in, and also make egg white omelets for everybody. Happy birthday love.’ That makes me angry.”
McBride said he rarely gets angry. But said that Waze gets him angry, to which Hader agreed.
Finding The Voice.
Hader said that they had tried a Robert Preston/”Music Man” approach to finding the voice of Lenard. But after one session of that, it wasn’t working. So they went with a “Hee-Haw” jolly and excited feel for the voice. Hader joked that he was basically channeling his dad for the voice.
Sudeikis says Red’s voice is pretty much an amped up version of himself.
Gad said he got his inspiration to voice Chuck from a childhood friend whom he called Motor Mouth. “That hurt him, and put him in therapy for a couple of years, and I feel bad about that in retrospect,” joked Gad. “I sort of based the character on his mannerisms, and that idea of never being able to shut down, the words coming out faster than you can compute them.”
“You know you got it after you can’t talk after a three our session,” said McBride.
Playing the Game
Hader said he discovered Angry Birds during a layover. While Gad joked he was on the toilet. He added that he became obsessed with Star Wars Angry Birds. McBride admitted that he just bought his way through the game. Sudeikis said he just played the original version. To which Hader joked in a barn-yard accent that they took a real live bird and put him on a slingshot.
Gad said that the later levels of Star Wars Angry Birds gave him the most difficulty. “You launch into these planets and sucked into each orbit. That’s the tricky one.”
Message of the movie.
Like ‘Inside Out,’ we learn that some emotions shouldn’t be labeled as a negative or a positive. In fact, they are there for a reason. So while anger may be a negative aspect on the surface level, the film teaches us that sometimes it is okay to be angry. “That is one of the things that I like about it,” says Sudeikis. “We’ve gotten better at acting like it doesn’t exist, but apparently it still does. Letting it out every now and then is a healthy thing. Never go to far one way or the other. Don’t hold it all the way in. Don’t let it all the way out. A little toot of anger is a nice thing.”
- Josh Gad will sing a little song.
- The actors are very involved early on during the process of the film. This gives time for the animators to readjust the look of the characters so that they can closely resemble their voice actors. This includes ticks, mannerism, and gestures.
- Sudeikis jokingly compares the recording process to being in a David Fincher movie. “There’s like 70 takes. They just beat the acting out of ya. ‘Just be a bird. Be a pig. Shut up and go home.’”
- One of the things that Hader discovered about the filmmaking process of an animated movie was that the script and story was constantly being developed throughout production. “A lot of these animated movies they takes years and years and years, and what these guys are so good at kind of constantly improving things. They never settle on something. It’s not like we show up, and there’s an ‘Angry Birds’ script, and we just record it and we go home. You’re constantly redoing the scenes because these guys are working so hard.”
- The cast unanimously agrees that you don’t have to know about the game to like the film.