You will tear up a little at the animated short film “Hair Love” that Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr. and Bruce W. Smith whipped up, via Kickstarter, and Sony attached as the opener to “The Angry Birds Movie 2.”
It’s a mostly silent tale of a hapless African American father doing battle with his little girl’s violently mussed hair, with instruction assistance from an online video.
He’s got to manage this because Mom’s not there. And as much as you’d think a man who has to attend to the care and feeding of his own dreadlocks would have to know about taming an unruly Afro, he’s out of his depth.
It is adorable, poignant and about something — African America’s love-hate relationship with hair. It is everything that the generic, laugh-starved sausage factory production that Sony Pictures Animation slapped on AFTER it is not.
“Angry Birds 2” has hints of empowerment, of “work together” and “don’t steal credit from smart women” to fend off a female supervillain.
All that in a comedy with barely a chuckle in it. The script is so thin that the best lines lean HARD on speech impediments to work.
“Oh Kwap!” “Awe you fweakin’ kiddin’ me?”
It starts out weak and is coughing up blood by the third act.
“Birds” is a Chatty Cathy of a cartoon comedy, relying on three screenwriters to provide lines that virtually never deliver, a plot that is generic “add a new villain to the sequel” piffle and a voice cast that can’t compensate for those shortcomings.
Jason Sudeikis returns as the non-heroic “hero” bird with the “angry” eyebrows, again forced to deal with a threat to Bird Island from abroad.
The Pig Islanders, plump and green and mischievous, in or out of thongs and tankinis, call for a truce when they recognize a new common threat, a third island, is hurling volcanic snowballs onto their respective paradise islands.
Quick, call in “Squeal Team Six!”
Red and the head pig Leonard (Bill Hader) must “assemble the team,” including a porcine gadget guru (Sterling K. Brown), and the smart ladybird (Rachel Bloom) who wrote off Red (or vice versa) in a bird colony round of speed-dating just the day before.
The early promise of the movie is in their testy exchanges, her rattling off a list of his shortcomings and “issues,” professional jerk Sudeikis — as Red — responding in kind.
“Talks to herself…Doesn’t answer her own questions. Left-handed, probably a witch.”
But those sparks disappear as the picture slacks off into a couple of other settings — hatchlings trying to rescue the eggs they have endangered (“Oh Kwap” comes here.) and the villain’s lair, where we discover how little humor Leslie Jones can wring out of a villain with no funny lines, and how Tiffany Haddish maybe needs a better agent (playing the villain’s daughter).
Scores of pop tunes, courtesy of everyone from Sarah McLachlan and Paula Cole to Lionel, Bowie, Buffett and, wait for it — Europe — are slapped on as comic kickers to many scenes. They do not help.
I won’t say it’s excruciating, but viewers of every age will be keenly aware of the passage of time and this colossal waste of it.
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor and action
Voice Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Jones, Tiffany Haddish, Awkwafina, Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Danny McBride and Eugenio Derbez
Credits: Directed by Thurop Van Orman and John Rice, script by Peter Ackerman Eyal Podell, Jonathon E. Stewart. A Sony Pictures Animation release.
Running time: 1:36