Pin It

Review: ‘A Birder’s Guide to Everything’ Starring Kodi Smit McPhee & Ben Kingsley

a-birders-guide-to-everything

A movie about four 15-year old high school students searching for an extinct duck just became one of my (so far) favorite movies of the year.

A Birder’s Guide to Everything is a delightfully charming (and sometimes sad) story of David Portnoy (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a young bird watcher. I mean “birder” as they call themselves in the film. We know he’s a hardcore birder seconds into the film when we see him grab a pair of binoculars and looks out his window. He scans past a half-naked woman to fixate on one of the flying creatures.

One morning when he’s biking to school, he thinks he sees something potentially life-changing: a duck that has been extinct for over a hundred years. He quickly snaps a picture and takes it to the YBS, the Young Birders Society, a group of high school friends (Alex Wolff and Michael Chen) who share his love of birding.

They all agree to take the discovery to Dr. Konrad (Ben Kingsley) to see what he thinks. He believes the gang might be onto to something big but the picture is way to blurry. So, they plot to find the duck before it migrates but this time, with a better camera.

David sneaks into the photography lab and nabs a high-powered lens but is caught by Ellen (Katie Chang). The guys tell her of their upcoming adventure and invite her along. She agrees as long as she’s the one to take the picture.

With the backdrop of David’s still painful death of his mother and his dad about to get remarried, the roadtrip is a welcome diversion to real life.

This is the directorial debut of Rob Meyer, who also wrote the screenplay with Luke Matheny, and he’s done a wonderful job of showing real teens dealing with things teens often struggle with; raging hormones, utter shyness, sex, death… and probably the worst thing of all, high school. They argue, fight and seconds later are best friends again.

And he’s assembled a cast of young actors who are just wonderful. McPhee, gangly and awkward, is perfect as a young kid still dealing with the recent death of his mother. His love of birds came from his mom and his drive to be the one to find this extinct duck is all he can do to help preserve her memory, it seems. Wolff, Chen and Chang are equally terrific. And each one of them holds their own in scenes with a brilliant actor like Kingsley.

My favorite line of the film: Timmy (Wolff) has to throw something to one of the group. He draws back and tosses a dud. Everyone looks at him as he yells, “I’m sorry! I’m a birder!”

Director: Rob Meyer

Writers: Rob Meyer & Luke Matheny

Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Kingsley, Katie Chang, Alex Wolff, Michael Chen

Leave a Reply

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cate-blanchett-asks-graduating-s.jpg
Cate Blanchett Asks Graduating Students a Heavy Question: “What the hell can you do with an arts degree?”
“What the hell can you do with an arts degree?” Many actors ask themselves that when they find themselves struggling to make it in Hollywood while saddled with student loans. It was Cate Blanchett who posed that question recently to graduating students at Macquarie University in Sydney where she received an honorary doctorate degree. The […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/matthew-mcconaughey-rallies-his.jpg
Matthew McConaughey Rallies his Alma Mater Football Team to Victory with the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Chant
Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey delivered a different kind of speech two weeks ago when he spoke with the Texas Longhorns football team after their close 20-17 loss to UCLA. The moment was a bit odd, but hilarious at the same time. Coach Charlie Strong was the one who invited the Dallas Buyers Club star to inspire the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-anna-gunn-reveals-her-awkw.jpg
Watch: Anna Gunn Reveals Her Awkward ‘Breaking Bad’ Audition Details
Though Breaking Bad was obviously a career highpoint for every actor involved, they all must move on to their next projects (except for the few who are involved in the Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul). This includes Anna Gunn, who portrayed Walter White’s wife Skyler on the award-winning series series. Gunn’s new series, the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-conversations-with-maggie.jpg
Watch: Conversations with Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott of New CBS Series ‘Stalker’
Both Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott are TV veterans, with Q recently starring in Nikita and McDermott recently starring in both American Horror Story and Hostages. This season both star as the leads of Stalker, a drama series on CBS about LAPD detectives who specialize in crimes that have to do with stalking. In a […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/watch-conversations-with-the-nor.jpg
Watch: Conversations with ‘The Normal Heart’ Actor and ‘The Last Ship’ Director Joe Mantello
Joe Mantello received an Emmy nomination for his performance in HBO’s The Normal Heart, and what makes that particularly extraordinary is that it was Mantello’s first TV role since a 1998 appearance on Law & Order. In fact, besides appearing in the Broadway production of The Normal Heart in 2011, Mantello hasn’t had any other […]