A slight, but quirky indie comedy from Theodore Bezaire, The Birder finds Ottawa native Tom Cavanagh as an ornithologist whose life is in disarray. Ron Spencer’s ex-wife has finally kicked him out of the house after breaking up six months prior. The high school where he’s a science teacher has begun to treat him like he doesn’t exist, and he’s recently lost his dream job as the head of the birding department at his beloved national park to a younger hot shot (Jamie Spilchuk). When his loving daughter begins spending more time with the new chief bird watcher, Ron colludes with the high school’s stoner, slacker janitor (Mark Rendall) to prove he’s the real “cock of the walk.”
Bezaire has assembled a great cast and produced a good looking film with a handful of big laughs (mostly thanks to the underplaying of Cavanagh and the overplaying of Spilchuk and Rendall), but it’s also one of those films that feels like a premise for something larger. It’s so basic in its approach that to review it would only result in listing off everything that happens in the film because there’s very little between the film’s margins other than the obvious to keep it interesting. Sometimes simplicity can be a virtue, but here it just dulls a story that could use a bit of a goosing to get going. It’s not bad, just fairly forgettable, often forcing quirk upon a story in hopes that the audience won’t notice that the cast has little to work with.
It’s such a non-entity that I have now watched it twice in the past several months and I haven’t retained a bit of what happened. Hence the brevity of the review. There’s simply nothing new to add. It’s kind of like last week’s Million Dollar Arm, but with a lot more forced zaniness and birding substituted for baseball.