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

  • Pin It

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

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/watch-andy-serkis-talks-motion-c.jpg
Watch: Andy Serkis Talks Motion Capture, His Career and More
This week saw the release of the final film in The Lord of the Rings saga, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Out of the dozens of actors who appeared in the series, the one whose career was most defined by the six-film franchise is Andy Serkis, who portrayed Gollum in the series […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/dan-stevens-summer-in-february.jpg
Dan Stevens Recalls When Shia LaBeouf Disrupted One of His Broadway Performances: “I wish I’d had a broadsword then”
Though Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is billed as the final movie in the fantasy series, it still incorporates some new blood into the mix alongside franchise favorites like Ben Stiller and Robin Williams. The most significant new addition is Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey, who plays Lancelot. Lancelot doesn’t realize that […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/bradley-cooper-the-elephant-man.jpg
Bradley Cooper Takes A Grad School Dream To The Broadway Stage With, ‘The Elephant Man’
Bradley Cooper is proving to be an actor who wants a career defined by strong work. Instead of solely relying upon franchises like The Hangover, the Oscar nominee is mixing it up again between the big screen and the stage. Cooper is starring in The Elephant Man on Broadway this theatre season. It’s a role […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/bob-balaban-a-delicate-balance.jpg
Bob Balaban on Being a Character Actor: “It’s what I do and who I am and I really enjoy it”
With Glenn Close and John Lithgow in the cast of Broadway’s A Delicate Balance, it’s okay if you didn’t notice that veteran actor Bob Balaban is also in the cast. Balaban, who is probably best known for his roles in Christopher Guest‘s mockumentaries and for his supporting roles in dozens of other films, has returned […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/michael-c-hall-hedwig.jpg
Michael C. Hall on His Broadway Life After ‘Dexter': “There was a desire to perform an exorcism”
When it was announced that Michael C. Hall was replacing Andrew Rannells in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, it was a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t that people thought Hall couldn’t pull off the role of a transgender rock star — he was previously on Broadway as the Master of Ceremonies in […]