A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
- In theaters: March 21, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: May 27, 2014
- Cast: Ben Kingsley, Kodi Smit-McPhee, James LeGros, Alex Wolff
- Director: Rob Meyer
- Studio: Screen Media Films
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, High school
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language, sex and drug references, and brief partial nudity
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