Birds of America – DVD Review

I have no idea what I just saw.

And I loved it.

It’s quirky, yet charming. Sad, yet cheery. It’s random and…well, I guess I don’t an opposite for that, it’s just random. I think what I love most about the movie is that it’s real. It’s real issues not some glammed up Hollywood issues but real issues. Problems with neighbors, problems with co-workers, problems with family. Yes, most of these things have been done to death by the movie industry but this one still manages to feel fresh.

So, here’s the basics of the story: Matthew Perry plays a guy named Morrie. His dad died when he was 18 and left him to take care of a sick mother and two younger siblings. And yet, Morrie still somehow managed to find the time to get a Masters degree that allows him to work at a University where he is this (squeezes index finger and thumb together ) close to tenure. And one of the guys who will be deciding whether or not he gets tenure just happens to be his next door neighbor. And this neighbor has a dog that likes to use Morrie’s yard as a personal restroom, but of course, Morrie can’t say anything because he has to suck up until he gets his tenure.

Morrie’s brother Jay, played wonderfully by Ben Foster, has a rough start to the movie, he lays down in the road for reasons unknown and gets hit be a passing vehicle. Not seriously injured, but it makes the rest of the family wonder where his head is at. Morrie questions that even more when he finds out Jay has been living in the forest.

When Morrie tells his sister Ida (Ginnifer Goodwin) about Jay’s problem, she decides to come home and check on him. Ida is a bit of a floozy/drug addict/photographer. All this comes at a time when Morrie’s wife Betty(Lauren Graham) hears that little biological clock ticking. It all comes together in a perfect castrophany of horror for Morrie and Betty.

I could spend another 15 paragraphs setting up all the other little relationships that cause even more stress, but there’s a point where it becomes reviewer overkill. The movie plods along a little slowly, especially the first time through because you have no idea what’s going on. Second time through, and trust me, there will need to be a second time through, it gets better. But by the end all the storylines are coming to their peak and the feeling is palpable.

So what I really liked about the movie is the film-making and the shot selection. The symmetry through the movie of people lying on the ground looking up helps tie the movie together. The camera work in the opening scene with Jay lying down on the road is fantastic and really does a good job of getting you hooked. Also the use of birds throughout the movie is a nice touch. At certain points throughout the movie we go to just a shot of birds playing in water or flying away or just having pictures of birds. It makes for a nice transition from one scene into the next.

Audio is also tremendous in the movie. The music is really good. The bird sounds are good. There were actually a couple times I had to check outside to make sure there weren’t birds outside my window.

Birds of America is presented in 16×9 Widescreen format and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.

A dazzling display of extras including…Spanish Subtitles. That’s it.

Awesome sleeper movie. Not a knock-your-socks-off comedy but funny enough in moments. I really don’t know why I love this movie, but I do. Great camera work and an interesting story just pulls it all together. I’ve been called an “Indie Film Kid” in the past and this is one of my “Indie Film Kid” rep boosters. It would score even higher for me if there were any extras.


First Look Studios Presents Birds of America. Directed by Craig Lucas. Starring Matthew Perry, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lauren Graham, and Ben Foster. Written by Elise Friedman. Running time: 85 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: October 21st, 2008. Available at Amazon.