Movie review of “The Angry Birds Movie”: Origin story of popular game is cute and has its moments, but the film isn’t likely to draw an audience beyond the grade-school set. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.

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Sometimes, a movie critic needs a bit of extra help, and for “The Angry Birds Movie” I required the assistance of Matt, an 11-year-old “Angry Birds” expert. He gave me a crash course, so to speak, in the game just before the screening, and afterward pronounced the movie “a solid three stars” while acknowledging that “a lot of it could have been a little better.” (Story of my life, kid.)

Without his help, I might well have found “The Angry Birds Movie” agreeable but utterly mystifying. (A slingshot? Why?) In context, the movie has its moments, but it’s not likely to draw much of an audience beyond the grade-school set: It’s an origin story for a video game, told with the usual assortment of movie-star voices and kid-friendly jokes involving butts, pratfalls and pig-related puns. So help me, I giggled at “Hamnesty International.”

Told in unnecessary 3D, the story takes place on Bird Island, where all the businesses have cute avian names (i.e. Birds & Bees Fertility Clinic) and all the flightless birds are inordinately cheerful. The exception is cranky Red, who sports impressive Martin Scorsese eyebrows and is voiced by Jason Sudeikis. (He’s fine, but am I wrong in wishing Russell Crowe had this role?) With Chuck (Josh Gad) and Bomb (Danny McBride), two fellow outsiders he meets in anger-management class, Red must find his inner bird — not to mention that slingshot — when a gang of mysterious egg-stealing pigs invade the island.

Movie Review ★★½  

‘The Angry Birds Movie,’ with the voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Sean Penn, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage. Directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis, from a screenplay by Jon Vitti. 95 minutes. Rated PG for rude humor and action. Several theaters.

The world gets saved, at least for the moment; more importantly, the random French-mime bird survives to gesticulate another day. (Is he in the video game? Can he please have his own movie franchise?) Though Matt and I disagreed a tad on the overall star rating, we laughed enough while watching it to rate the movie thumbs-up, if not a must-see. In other words, “The Angry Birds Movie” is unnecessary but cute, like a bonnet on a cat — and there are certainly worse recommendations than that.