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Generally favorable reviews - based on 12 Critics What's this?

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7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 Ratings

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  • Summary: David Portnoy (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a 15-year-old birding fanatic, thinks that he's made the discovery of a lifetime. So, on the eve of his father's remarriage, he escapes on an epic road trip with his best friends to solidify their place in birding history.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. Reviewed by: Mary Houlihan
    Mar 20, 2014
    75
    The young actors shine revealing lights on their characters.
  2. Reviewed by: Sheila O'Malley
    Mar 21, 2014
    75
    A tender and gentle coming-of-age story, as well as a meditation on grief and letting go. It is also that very rare thing, a movie about teenagers where the characters actually seem like real teenagers, as opposed to mini posing adults.
  3. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Mar 27, 2014
    75
    In spite of its familiar outlines, director Rob Meyer's first feature benefits from an authentic script and performances.
  4. Reviewed by: Ronnie Scheib
    Mar 18, 2014
    70
    The constant, genial comic undercurrent of teenspeak exchanges, penned by the writing team of helmer Meyer and Luke Matheny, contrasts satisfyingly with Kingsley’s wry musings and the more serious treatment given to David’s evolving maturity.
  5. Reviewed by: Drew Hunt
    Mar 19, 2014
    63
    The film exhibits strong character interplay and resides in an unconventional milieu, in effect turning rote material into something that feels decidedly eccentric.
  6. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    Mar 18, 2014
    60
    The film captures its lush, leafy settings with an understated evocativeness that fully immerses the audience in its sense of place. The problem is that the movie ultimately leans too heavily on that sense of understatement, failing to let genuine, unexpected emotion fully break through to the surface.
  7. Reviewed by: Sherilyn Connelly
    Mar 18, 2014
    40
    While it doesn't quite encompass everything, the film's still a bit too busy for its own good.

See all 12 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Sep 15, 2014
    7
    Although this movie is ostensibly about birdwatching, the fanatical enthusiasm for this hobby is actually the background for coming-of-age, dealing with grief, and relationships between parents and teenagers. David Portnoy, a 15-year-old played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, is still coping with the death of his mother and the fact that only 1.5 years after the tragedy, his father (James Le Gros) is marrying the attractive nurse (Daniela Lavender) who tended to his mother in her dying days. David's chief consolation for his loneliness and grief are his two best friends (Michael Chen and Alex Wolff) at school, with whom he has formed the school's birdwatching society—referred to as “birding” only if one is truly serious and devoted to the cause.

    Instead of being comic-book geeks or computer nerds, this birding society of three, which barely qualifies them for club status at their high school, is obsessed with collecting knowledge and sightings of every kind of bird species they can possibly identify in their geographical area. They are fans and devotees of a famous ornithologist who lives nearby and has published books on the subject, Dr. Konrad (eccentrically played by Ben Kingsley). When the club meets at the school library, despite their inability to attract and hold new club members, they amusingly conform to Robert's Rules of Order even if the Chair is obliged to say, “The Chair recognizes himself.” Their goal is to list and recognize countless bird species, and if possible, to sight endangered species. The real prize is the almost non-existent chance of sighting a bird that is supposed to be extinct, which David is sure he has one day when a strangely colored duck lands in the road in front of his bicycle.

    The threesome set out to find the invaluable duck, which they hope has migrated to the nearest wildlife refuge area, and in so doing, David escapes his father's house the weekend before the wedding. The boy is haunted by memories of his deceased mother, an expert birder who taught him her skills, and is also awkwardly establishing tentative romantic relations with his first girlfriend (Katie Chang). His disappointment in his father's decision to re-marry so soon has put a pronounced strain on their relationship.

    Although lacking the sentimentality and misty-eyed idealism of say, The Summer of '42, this coming-of-age story has a certain charm, as the scholarly pursuit of birdwatching by teenagers who have all the time in the world to perfect their art provides an unusual and interesting twist.
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  2. May 25, 2014
    6
    Seriously, what's a birder's guide to everything in this movie??? Why, Hollywood, why, all teen movies needs to be about sex? This could have been 10/10 if the director stayed on with the title of the movie. Expand
  3. Nov 12, 2014
    5
    The niche that A Birder's Guide to Everything seems to strive for is a blend of coming-of-age film and a celebration of birder culture. Sadly, the movie focuses less on the latter, the more esoteric and interesting area of focus, and hones it's attention on adolescent angst, as well as the grief of losing a loved one. While Meyer's work here is admirably quite a calm and, I guess, contemplative (?) exploration of youth, it is in equal measure, and maybe because of it's reserve, practically devoid of personality. Ben Kingsley adds some much needed dynamic qualities to a character that is hardly in the film more than 10 minutes. Aside from his grace-notes, each actor does their best with the sub-par material, straining to give life to what are essentially caricatures. Another film similar in subject is a documentary that aired on HBO last year called Birders: The Central Park Effect. It clocks in at about half the time and goes extensively into the more interesting subject from which A Birder's Guide to Everything derives it's title, but nothing in the area of passion or insight. There was an element involving the young female lead that I initially hoped was going to unfold without dipping into the cliched trope of having her serve as the male lead's romantic interest and nothing more, but I was wrong. It is pleasant and scenic enough, and the movie doesn't make any egregious errors that derail the entire picture, but neither does it take risks or attempt to distinguish itself from a crowd of better coming-of-age movies (and birding films, too, for that matter). Expand

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