Monday, 19 May 2014

A BIRDER'S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Coming-of-age family film is as sweet as honey.

Unbelievably sweet coming-of-age picture and official selection at the TIFF 2014 Next Wave Film Festival is great entertainment for the whole family and now available on DVD from levelFilm. A definite keeper.

David, Timmy and Ellen are looking for an extinct duck.
Will they find it? We sure hope so. For their sake.

Is that Sir Ben Kingsley?
By Jove! I think it is!
A Birder's Guide To Everything (2013) ***
Dir. Rob Meyer / Script: Luke Matheny, Rob Meyer
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Kingsley, Alex Wolff, Katie Chang, Michael Chen, James LeGros, Tracy Bundy, Daniela Lavender

Review By Greg Klymkiw

It's bad enough that David (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Timmy (Alex Wolff) and Peter (Michael Chen) are geeks, but because they've lost the fourth member of their club, they might lose official club status at their school. This would be a big problem since they're such mega-geeks that this would be an incredible embarrassment. Not only are they geeks, but their club epitomizes geek-dom of the highest order as it's devoted to birding, an activity which seals the deal on their geek-ish status amongst their peers. If only they could accomplish something that would somehow make them and their club super-cool. As luck would have it, an opportunity does indeed present itself. When David spots a rare duck - so rare it's thought to have been extinct for several decades - he presents his findings to the lads. Alas, he was on his bike when he saw it, so the photograph he attempted to take would, in the world of birding, be too inconclusive to prove the find. With the help of Lawrence (Ben Kingsley), a world famous birder who conveniently lives in their town, they're given some solid information as to how and where to track it down. Conveniently, Lawrence knew and respected David's Mom (Tracy Bundy), a famous birder whom we meet over the course of a few flashbacks.

David, of course, acquired his skills and interest in birding via his Loving Mom, but as she's been dead for over a year, Lawrence seems quicker with the information than he normally would be. Birders are craftily competitive with each other and normally Sir Ben's character would have kept mum and just gone after the rare bird himself. Sympathy saves the day though and soon, with Lawrence's sage advice, the lads have a realistic goal.

There are, however, a few roadblocks in their way. David's Dad (James LeGros) is getting married just when the boys need to track their quarry. David is bitter that his Father is marrying his six-feet-under-Mom's private nurse (Daniela Lavender) and he must seriously consider hurting Dad's feelings and skipping the nuptials altogether. Their destination requires a car and Timmy must convince his stoner cousin to lend them the use of his vehicle. Worse yet, they need a super-powerful telephoto lens, so David dupes the president of the school photography club, the hot young filly Ellen (Katie Chang), to gain access to the dark room where he steals the group's lens. When Ellen figures out what David's done, she tracks him down, though upon learning what they need the lens for, she insists on tagging along. The boys are cool with this. She's a babe and if she enjoys the journey, maybe she'll join their club so they don't lose their official status at school.

From here on in, many shenanigans ensue, love casts a spell, loyalties are tested, familial peace must be restored and a duck thought to be extinct must be found. Lord knows, I don't want to give this away, but I'm happy to report that this is an engaging family film that kids will really enjoy and frankly, so will their parents. A Birder's Guide To Everything has a delightfully fresh backdrop, a nicely written screenplay and the performances of the kids are fresh and natural.

And hey, it's got Sir Ben Kingsley hobbling around as a peg-leg birder. What more could any parent looking for suitable viewing material for their kids possibly want? This is one sweet, loving and often lovely little movie.

A Birder's Guide To Everything is available on DVD via levelFILM. The DVD has a solid commentary with Meyer and Matheny, the requisite behind the scenes stuff, and a really fun extra that presents a wealth of info on, I'm not kidding, bird calls. Kids of ALL AGES (including adults) will love this one. Feel free to order your copy directly from the links below and in so doing, contribute to the ongoing maintenance of The Film Corner.