“Everything” covers a lot of ground, and Rob Meyer’s coming-of-age dramedy A Birder’s Guide to Everything has a slightly more modest scope.
High schooler David (Kodi Smit-McPhee) uses amateur ornithology to avoid the pressing emotional issues in his life, not least of which are his mixed feelings about the impending nuptials of his recently widowed father (James LeGros) and David’s late mother’s nurse (Daniela Lavender).
After taking a picture of what he thinks may be a duck species thought to be extinct since the late 1800s, and confirming with a famous ornithologist (Ben Kingsley) that the blurry picture could well be of the not-quite-dead duck in question, David sets off with his best friends and fellow birders Timmy (Alex Wolff, shorn of his excellent HairBrained coiffure) and Peter (Michael Chen) and newcomer Ellen (Katie Chang) to get a better picture for proof, and maybe skip David’s father’s wedding altogether.
While it doesn’t quite encompass everything, the film’s still a bit too busy for its own good — a subplot involving drugs in a stolen car never quite pays off — and it’s ultimately yet another movie about fathers and sons who need to learn how to hug. That’s a theme which could stand to go extinct for a few years.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 19, 2014