Birdman

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Birdman Movie Poster Image
Excellent, mature dramedy about failure, success, identity.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 119 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 24 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Go big, or go home. And be kind to yourself, because you can be your own worst enemy. Addresses big, thorny questions about identity, failure, and relevancy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All the characters are complex; they make a lot of mistakes, and sometimes the damage is hard to repair. But they're each aiming for greatness the only way they know how, and others are just trying to survive. The film has a lot of compassion for those who make mistakes.

Violence

A man brandishes a gun. He and a woman (separately) stand or sit on the precipice of a building. A stage light falls from overhead and conks out an actor (his head is bloody). Actors throw fits both on and off stage, throwing things around, punching each other, and generally losing it. A gun goes off during a play.

Sex

An actor gets an erection in the middle of a play; he's on stage in his underwear, so it's clearly evident. Another actor is shown in his underwear while getting ready in his dressing room, and another takes off his pants and is wearing nothing underneath (his behind is seen). A woman makes a pass at her co-star and kisses her. Seductive talk between a young woman and a much older man. Couples kiss.

Language

Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "a--hole," and more.

Consumerism

Theater marquees show names for actual shows, including Phantom of the Opera. Other products/brands shown include Starbucks, X-Men, Avengers, Twitter, and Facebook.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of drinking. One character progressively gets more reliant on booze to get through the day. He's also shown smoking pot while his daughter is staying with him. Characters smoke cigarettes on rooftops and on the streets.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu's Birdman is a bold and beautiful movie that's probably best left for adults and the most mature teens. It's thorny and forceful in the best ways possible; its power lies in its unequivocal attempts to address questions about identity, failure, and relevancy. Characters fight brashly and aren't afraid to push one another's buttons. The lead character plummets to the depths of despair; he flails, drinks, smokes pot, gets vicious in verbal fights, and flails some more. The play he's producing has scenes in which a gun goes off and actors threaten each other. There's also plenty of swearing, from "a--hole" to "f--k," as well as some kissing and a scene in which an underwear-clad actor gets an erection while on stage during a play.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12 and 15 year old Written byexitedreviewer December 29, 2014

Best Movie Of The Year

Before I go into what parents might be concerned about, I have to say that this movie is absolutely incredible and hands down the best film of the year. There... Continue reading
Adult Written bykipwalker44 February 28, 2015
Teen, 17 years old Written byNo Name, for real. February 20, 2015

Black Swan directed by Mel Brooks

Birdman is an extremely dark, hilarious, yet serious movie that's very mature. Contains lots of swearing, and mature themes that are meant for mature viewe...
Teen, 17 years old Written byRocket_Sam74 May 5, 2016

HOW ARE PEOPLE SO BLIND!?!

I don't understand how people keep saying "oh the plot was boring" and "the screenplay was too slow" or how they keep complaining abou... Continue reading

What's the story?

It's just days until the opening night of his first Broadway play, and actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is beyond jangled. His horrible co-star has just been injured, and a replacement has been found in Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), a Broadway veteran whose "method" is founded on chaos and controversy. But Mike is brilliant -- and a box-office draw. Never mind that his girlfriend (Naomi Watts), who's also in the play, is increasingly on the outs with him. Meanwhile, Riggan's other co-star -- and sometime paramour -- Laura (Andrea Riseborough) has just informed him that she may be pregnant. And his producer/lawyer (Zach Galifianakis) tells him that the funding's run dry, too. All while his fresh-out-of-rehab daughter, Sam (Emma Stone), vacillates between hating him and needing their connection. But the play is Riggan's last hope to rise above his previous incarnation: He was once famous for playing Birdman, a superhero with a caustic tongue whose voice Riggan still hears often. And loudly.

Is it any good?

BIRDMAN will leave you soaring. It's what moviemaking is meant to be, if a director allows his (and his actors') considerable gifts to run unfettered by conventional wisdom, self-consciousness, or an enormous need to please. It commits all sorts of sins -- it's overlong and overstuffed and the plot is flimsy -- but is still just about perfect. The story is as meta as can be; whoever cast Keaton, a super-talent who also was once identified with a superhero character (Batman) and long in search of a super-project, is a mastermind. Though Riggan lives in a stylized milieu, he's authentic and familiar and desperately moving.

Pretty much everyone else is, too, from Stone -- who plays Riggan's deeply angry daughter well, with nary a shortcut -- to Norton, who's equally convincing and terrifying as an agitating actor who's best onstage and nowhere else. Music thrums through the movie, reminding us that what we're watching is as mournful as a classical elegy and as riffy as late-night jazz. And the dialogue is swift and mighty. (A perfect line: "Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.") That the central play depicted in the movie is based on the work of virtuosic short-story writer Raymond Carver is added genius; to paraphrase the writer, Birdman is what we talk about when we talk about good movies.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Birdman is saying about the nature of art and artists -- and of us as audiences. What do each bring to the experiences they share?

  • What audience do you think the movie is targeted at? How can you tell? What messages does it convey to that audience?

  • How would you characterize Riggan's relationship with Sam? With his ex-wife?

  • Why does Riggan keep hearing Birdman's voice? What does that mean? Is he his conscience or his tormentor?

Movie details

For kids who love quirky characters

Our editors recommend

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