The Birder: A Review

Today I got the rare opportunity to check out a soon to be released on DVD movie called The Birder.

The retro feel of  the title character and his world begins in the intro with a song from 1958 (“Better Man Than Me” by Gary Trexler). We go straight to an old-fashioned educational film featuring an ornithologist and an enthusiastic young boy.

Back to today, where the movie’s being shown to a class of bored teens. The boy in the movie has grown up into their teacher, Ron Spencer (Tom Cavanagh) now known as an expert birdwatcher (sorry, birder) who teaches kids all about the fantastic lives of birds. Ron doesn’t seem to like how the world is changing faster than he is — or how nobody is interested in birds as much as he is. He doesn’t want to change anything in his life; not move out to make room for his wife’s new guy, not even buy a modern camera like his daughter suggests.

Also on the school staff is Ben, the newly hired janitor (Mark Rendall), whose life is going nowhere — five years after graduating from high school, he’s back there cleaning the floors.

As Ron strives to fulfill his lifelong dream and become the Head of Ornithology at a provincial park, he instead gets passed over for his arch rival, Floyd Hawkins (Jamie Spilchuk). Floyd is more trendy and gets along better with young people. To make things worse, Ron’s daughter Samantha (Cassidy Renee) becomes Floyd’s second in command.

Meanwhile, Ben the janitor has also lost something to Floyd — his animal loving ex-girlfriend Laura (Tommie-Amber Pirie). This creates a bond between Ben and Ron,  eventually they both plan to get revenge on Floyd.

The two spy on Floyd at every single one of his public events and do some “reconnaissancing” of  his office as well. They hatch a couple of  silly revenge plans (like using a cassette [!] of bird calls to wreck his date with Laura), which all backfire without intimidating Floyd, or even making him aware they’re out to get him. (“You haven’t seen the last of me!” Ron says ominously, but Floyd just smiles and says, “Sure hope not.”) When they do manage to humiliate Floyd, they only make things worse for themselves.

This movie was rather amusing. The jokes were well done, the shots were perfectly arranged, and the entire story turned out humorous and impressive, eventually leading to the heartwarming ending. It’s funny to see how much someone will do just to chase his dream. I really like how retro they made Ron.

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