A Birder's Guide to Everything

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
A Birder's Guide to Everything Movie Poster Image
Teen pursues rare bird in slow-moving coming-of-age film.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

Not yet rated

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

David learns to let go of the past and embrace the present. In the process, he's able to forgive his father for a perceived slight, allowing the two of them to bond over the tragic untimely death of David's mother.

Positive role models & representations

Though David and his pals "borrow" a friend's car without permission, and he tries to abscond with some expensive photography gear from school, the group is still well-intentioned and ultimately they endeavor to do the right thing. David also realizes that he's made some poor decisions, and finds a way to make things right.


One scene features a wounded animal who must be put out of its misery, complete with some graphic sound effects.


Two teens flirt, and eventually share a sweet kiss. A scene very briefly shows a woman's breast. One teen character constantly talks about sex, often with crude references.


Quite a lot of swearing, including "bulls--t," "---hole," "bitch," "d--k," "c--k," "slut," " p---y," "hell" and one use of "f--k."

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Adults drink wine at dinner and at a wedding. Some drug references.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Birder's Guide to Everything is a coming-of-age film with a little bit of sexuality and lots of strong and crude language. Though there's plenty of humor in the movie, the untimely death of the central teen boy's mother is a theme that runs throughout, adding some sadness and grief to the story. There's some very mild flirting and a quick peek at a woman's breast, plus a few drug references.

User Reviews

Adult Written byJennifer S. May 6, 2017

Way too much crude sexual language

I watched this with my 11 year old daughter because she loves birds and birding. I was really disappointed with both the story itself as well as the underlying... Continue reading

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What's the story?

David (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a shy teen who's obsessed with bird-watching and having trouble accepting that his widower father -- David's mother, who shared her own love of birds with her son, passed away -- is about to get remarried. After spotting what might be an extremely rare species of duck, one that's been extinct for years, David and his pals decide to stake out a local nature preserve in the hopes of confirming this important discovery. This on the weekend of his father's wedding. A local bird expert (Ben Kingsley) joins the expedition and helps David learn some surprising history about his late mother. But will David make it back home in time for his dad's nuptials?

Is it any good?

The movie is heartwarming and charming, if un-energetic, with a cast of mostly likeable people struggling with real issues. David's birding provides him a connection to his mother, whom he misses very much -- a story line that's rich in material to explore.

If only it weren't eclipsed by the quest for the bird. Though presented as a grand adventure, it provides little actual conflict (save for a few red herrings thrown in), and takes up a good portion of the film without advancing the story much. Little happens in this film, and it feels slower than it's breezy 86 minutes. The ending is touching, but isn't especially surprising, and even potential conflicts that are loudly foreshadowed (will David lose the wedding rings?!) amount to nothing. Birder's Guide has its heart in the right place, but doesn't soar.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters in the movie. Do they seem realistic? Does any of their behavior remind you of your friends or people at school?

  • What message do you think the filmmakers wanted you to get out of the movie? What clues lead you to this conclusion?

  • What was the purpose of the nudity in the movie? Did it connect to the story in some way?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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