I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, but Angry Birds turned out to have some real meat to it, if you’re willing to look for it! There are several great things you can talk about with your kids, but also things to challenge yourself with.
Let’s start with the obvious – Anger. The movie is about angry birds, right? So anger is a key theme. The movie starts with Red having anger issues and being sent to anger management classes. He’s not a fan, and doesn’t really seem to take the lessons to heart. This might seem like the writers are giving a nod to anger, saying it’s ok, especially when anger ends up saving the day for the birds. And in a way they are. But, before we look deeper at the story and why / how anger saves the day, let’s look at what the Bible says about anger. It doesn’t actually say not to be angry or that anger is sin. What it does say is that we should “be angry and do not sin.” It also says not to “let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).
This is actually a significant message for us all, but maybe especially for our children. We have a tendency to shame each other for our negative emotions. So anger is accompanied by guilt and shame for feeling angry. Guilt and shame, in turn, often make us angrier. Fantastic, right? We need to give each other, and ourselves, permission to feel emotions, but also guidelines for how to feel them rightly. It is OK to feel anger. It is not OK to take that anger out on loved ones, (or anyone else). It’s also not OK to hold onto that anger and let it turn to bitterness, let it enslave us, etc. We can be angry, but then we need to forgive and let it go. In fact, even Jesus got angry and it is a good and righteous thing for us to be angry at the things he gets angry at.
Essentially, this is exactly what happened in the movie. The pigs came to the bird’s island and pretended to be friendly. They dazzled with the birds with new toys and gifts (even though sometimes the “gifts” they gave were really things that were already the birds’ in the first place) and singing and dancing. The pigs were fun! But that fun was deceptive. It was covering up an awful truth. The pigs were not there to be friends. They were not there because they were lost, or exploring, or in need…any of the lies they told… The pigs were there for one reason, to steal the birds’ eggs and take them back to their homeland so that all the pigs could feast on them.
No one saw the lies, or at least cared about the lies, except for Red. When Red started investigating the pigs, he was told he was rude to their guests. When he told them what the pigs had done, the birds were sad, but decided to just start over and make more eggs/babies. Red, however, was mad. He was mad at the lies. He was mad at the deception. He was mad at the breach of trust and the betrayal. And Red was really mad that the pigs stole their children, their future, and that they were going to kill and eat them. The Bible says that “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). This is what the pigs did. Red was angry about that, and it was a righteous anger. Not only that, but he challenged the other birds to get angry about it, too, with him. In fact, he said, “We’re getting our kids back and I don’t need any calm, detached birds. Not helping. I need angry birds. With every single feather of my being, I am not gonna let any of those kids get taken from their parents.” He’s acting like Jesus did when he threw the money changers out of the temple. He’s getting mad about things God would be mad about. And he’s acting on it in the right way. He’s defending the helpless.
Another really fascinating thing that the movie brings to light is that a personality trait that is troublesome in one setting is a blessing in another. Red is intense. He has a very accurate bologna meter—in other words, he immediately senses when things don’t add up, and he’s quick to point it out. For example, the moment the pigs landed, he started questioning everything they said. It sounded rude and unkind, but Red wasn’t trying to be mean, he just cared about truth, a lot. And another time, when he met the town hero/legend, Mighty Eagle, Red saw through him, too. “I don’t get this guy… He talks a good game, but he doesn’t care about anyone but himself.” Red was able to see past the hype and see the deep truth. Like I said, he had a very accurate bologna meter, and when it told him someone was full of bologna, he said so. Because of this, the community had always seen him as an inconvenience. He didn’t fit in to their normal polite society. The truth is that Red was a natural warrior. And warriors who don’t have a battle to fight still fight…they just fight the wrong things. Red was kind of against the world for a while, until the pigs showed up. That’s when Red began to shine. There was a real enemy to fight, and Red was a warrior who could spot the enemy a mile away. In this context, he was transformed from town annoyance to town hero. The birds nominated him their leader.
When you see someone who has an annoying personality trait, maybe it’s just not the right setting for that trait of theirs to shine. Be kind to them and look for the good in that trait. You may just need them down the road.
This brings up the matter of what we value in our society. The birds valued the wrong things and it got them in trouble. In many ways, those pigs were like our modern day celebrities. They were fun and sparkling, they had cool stuff and threw great parties. They were all personality and charm, but if you looked deeper, there was no character. The birds didn’t care, though. The birds thought more of fun and happiness than they did of truth and character. When hard times came though, they quickly changed their minds about what matters. All that celebrity hype meant nothing when their eggs were stolen. Suddenly, their values changed. They didn’t worry if someone was nice, they needed someone who was strong enough to tell the truth and strong enough to fight for them. It didn’t matter that Red wasn’t the most fun, was sometimes harsh and spoke his mind… That didn’t matter because they trusted him.
We get in trouble when we value the wrong things—it opens us up to lies, temptation and deception. “Better the wounds of a friend than the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6).
Just one quick word on temptation. The pigs dazzled the birds with all kinds of temptations to have fun. It wasn’t that the fun itself was bad (like they weren’t tempted to do drugs or anything like that), it’s that the birds were tempted with the fun to overlook things that aren’t so fun, things like lies and truth and Red’s warnings.
Here’s the thing about temptations though, they dazzle us in the present so they can steal our future.
The birds temporary fun provided an opportunity for their enemy to literally steal their future, their children. I know this is a kids’ movie, but that’s a pretty sober warning for us all.
Questions for Discussion:
- Do you typically think anger is a good thing or a bad thing? Did the movie make you think differently about anger and its place in our emotions?
- What are good things to be angry about?
- How can you be angry and not sin? How did Red manage to be angry and not sin?
- Red’s warrior like qualities weren’t valued at first. Why not? Why did that change? Do you know any warriors that just need a battle to fight?
- How did the birds value system change after the pigs stole their eggs?
- Have you ever been so dazzled and enamored with someone that you overlooked the truth of who they were?
- Do you think our culture values celebrities or heroes more? (Not that you can’t be both.)
- Do you prefer the kisses of an enemy or the wounds of a friend?
- Do you know anyone whose personality is challenging? How might that personality be a good thing in another situation?
- Do you ever feel like other people think some aspect of your personality is challenging or annoying? How do you feel about that? How do you respond?