Birdy - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Birdy Reviews

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April 28, 2014
Great script. Top notch acting. And quality production value. They pulled it off very well.

It isn't your usual Hollywood tale, but they told it using standard visuals, but still made it special. The mark of a great script and director who didn't get in the way by trying to do too much visually. It is based on an experimental novel worth reading, and the movie did a good job capturing its unique qualities.
October 14, 2007
En Mà (C)xico se llamó 'Alas de libertad'. Prefiero Birdy, no solo porque debieron respetar ese nombre propio, aunque fuera una especie de apodo. No recuerdo que se mencionara su nombre de pila. Creo que a Birdy no le quedo otra opción que quedar en el cascaron. Es como si sus representaciones del mundo se hubieran destruido (cuando las aves que volaban fueron calcinadas por una bomba, junto con mucha gente, en la guerra de Vietnam). Sorprendete como Al consigue dar ese viraje a la situación tan rápida y consistentemente. Sà (C) que a muchos el final les parecio tonto, sin embargo, tiene tanta frescura, autenticidad y gimmick espontaneo que no dudo que Birdy ahora si volara, pero en otro registro que lo regrese al mundo. Maravillosa.
½ October 18, 2013
Grand Prix du Jury a Cannes en 1984, Birdy est un film admirable sur le retour du Vietnam vu a travers les yeux de deux amis d'enfance, joues par les excellents Matthew Modine et Nicolas Cage. La musique de Peter Gabriel est excellente et certaines sequences sont particulierement reussies. Malheureusement, le film se traine dans la deuxieme heure et la symbolique du film est trop lourdement assennee. Un peu plus de finesse n'aurait pas ete de refus.
½ April 17, 2013
Perhaps my biggest frustration with the film is the fact there is no reason given for Birdy's obsession nor does it seem to mean anything. Modine himself does a fine job with the role, but the character and the story become boring because it's just one episode of Birdy acting insane after another. His desire to fly doesn't seem to stem from a desire to escape (he voluntarily cages himself up and makes no effort to leave his insulated world), nor from a desire to explore. His obsession doesn't play into the story's outcome (had he been a pyromaniac or a schizophrenic, the plot wouldn't have changed). Sure, in life there aren't always clear answers, but I simply don't feel like it makes for a good story. Cage is alright, but not enough to carry the post-war scenes. Parker's direction soars during the flight sequences (hardy har har), and the coming-of-age scenes are relatively entertaining (if somewhat repetitive). Lastly, Peter Gabriel's music is pretty good, but the same instrumental version of "The Rhythm of the Heat" is used at least four or five times, and yet I am not even sure if "Floating Dogs" from the soundtrack album is heard even once (disappointing since it is my favourite track).
April 17, 2013
Directed by Alan Parker, who had just come off the nightmarish production of Pink Floyd-The Wall (1982), Parker decided he wanted to do a simple character piece for his next film, nothing complicated. Based on William Wharton's 1978 bestselling novel, Parker came off this film rejuvenated and refreshed, and it would set the scene for what would come next in Angel Heart (1987) and Mississippi Burning (1988). As a teenager, Al Columbato (Nicolas Cage) became friends with local eccentric Birdy (Matthew Modine), who has an obsession with birds, and he wants to fly like a bird. Even though Al is at first scornful of Birdy's dreams and ambitions, he takes part in his experiments in the slums of Philadelphia. However, after they both enlist to fight in Vietnam, everything changes. After both being injured in an operation, Al suffers facial injuries while Birdy suffers a traumatic shock, and he's sent to a mental home, where he now believes he's a bird. Al travels to the mental hospital in an attempt to try and snap Birdy out of his locked in state of mind. It's a near heartbreaking film, and it shows Cage could turn in a powerful, gut-wrenching performance, and that Modine is a truly underrated actor. It's topped off with an eerie score by Peter Gabriel, and some great direction by Parker, who captures the era well.
½ February 19, 2013
I think this is Parker's best work- an interesting and rare-gem with terrible haircuts but some very series work. It's dark and obscure but it knows it and embraces it. Modine has to receive the credit for this one- his full commitment to the rule is deadly serious and takes away any chance of this being unintentionally funny. Cage plays his role well but he is certainly at the side here. When you are working from a novel of such maturity the odds of the film retaining that fully are slim- this film beats the odds, the depth in this one allows it build up naturally without ever feeling rushed.
November 20, 2012
A great buddy film-very well-acted by Matthew Modine & Nicholas CAge.
October 16, 2012
This is a classic movie w/ the late Bruno Kirby who portrayed a orderly; such as myself; i had the wonderful oppotunity to work and act on this movie filmed in a real mental instituion

,Agnews State Hospital in Santa Cara ,California in 1984 Larry L. Shade
August 23, 2012
Enjoyable friendship story with a strange psychological edge, but it is also makes wider observations about trauma.
Super Reviewer
½ December 19, 2007
Okay, you have Modine who loves birds and is so shaken up in 'Nam that he starts acting like a bird. Then you have Cage who's his bestest mate and tries to help him out while dealing with his own recollections of the war. It's a good film. Bit weird, but good.
½ October 22, 2010
Interesting to see what the movie is not: it tacles the Vietnam war, yet it is not a war/anti-war movie, takes place in a mental institution, yet it is not about mental ilness either, follows the story of two friends, but it sais very little about friendship, however it is a beautifully crafted character-driven film and in spite its obvious oddities it feels believable and not gratuitous.
½ March 6, 2012
It's a film about a guy who comes back from Vietnam mentally shattered - but 'Birdy' was mentally shattered before Vietnam.
February 19, 2012
Birdy. What an interesting character. One of the most aggravating things about starting out with the film is trying to nail down his character. He wasn't talking, so why did he suddenly decide to start talking? Why is he just hanging out in the tree? Is his obsessions with birds going to be any more than just a flat obsession to give the film a quirky edge? Matthew Modine plays the character Birdy like he was born to play the role. There is so much compassion he gives the character. Whether he is silent in the hospital, or naked with the birds, we always feel something for him. He might be strange, but he's so lovable. I know that I wanted the entire time for him to find some sort of happiness. What was really great about the character was the fact that his parents are normal. His father is a janitor at his school and his mother is a little nuts about baseballs flying into their yard. Neither parent is too harsh on Birdy. They just want him to be happy. So we come to the conclusion that Birdy wants to be a bird because that's just who he is. He wants the freedom of flying. At one point he sees the baby birds being hatched and says they fly not because of their wings, but because they know they can. I think more could have been fleshed out here. I get that he's not like everyone else just because that's who he is. It's an interesting statement to make. However, I still felt like something was missing. And I thought it was silly that Birdy and Al were played by Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine when they first met. Al was definitely acting like he was either just starting high school or maybe a little younger. It was funny to see him whine about getting the ball back. It also would have helped showing the progression of their relationship. As Al gets older he becomes more frustrated about not getting sex, while Birdy is moving closer to his love with birds that he doesn't care about sex. This leads to their eventual separation. The film makes a truthful observation, but it's nothing we haven't seen in war films before. When Birdy goes to Vietnam he sees the bombing of a forest and birds flying away. This destroys him. How could people act this way? Better shut himself up and let society live without him. Al tries to tell him that's no way to live. They can be together and leave everyone, but he can't live in that mental institution hooked on drugs. Nothing new, but still a good way to put it with this strange character. And the ending is hilarious. It has a good sense of humor about itself when you see Birdy jump. You think he has finally killed himself, but nope, there is just a lower ledge he jumped to. Birdy is a decent film, but some things seem to drag and play out a little stiff. I still enjoyed it.
December 14, 2011
very interesting but a bit depressing.
December 10, 2011
Recommended by several Flixster friends.
½ November 8, 2011
Remember When Nicolas Cage Could Act? And Was Ripped?

I know people who believe that every other Nicolas Cage movie is worth watching. I don't think it's quite that easy; for one thing, I think that his career average of good movies has varied more wildly than that over the history of his career, and he's now down below 50%. The thing is, though, that when he's good, he's really good. He's a fine, talented actor who just happened to have a weakness for really crappy movies. I mean, he's also nuts, which I can't think helps the situation. But I watch movies like this and wonder what the cause is on things like that. Is it that he's nuts? Or is it that he has bad taste in scripts? And does Nicolas Cage ever realize how terrible the movie is while he's making it? I think not, on that last, because he was apparently quite enthusiastic on the set of [i]The Wicker Man[/i], giving suggestions which actually managed to make it a worse movie. Which I have to say is pretty impressive.

Here, he is Al Columbato, a Vietnam veteran who was horribly scarred when a shell went off mere feet away from him. This was so recently that his face is still bandaged, but he is sent to a different VA hospital--this one for mental illness. His best friend, who goes by the nickname of "Birdy" (Matthew Modine), has completely retreated into himself. At first, they didn't even know who he was. And so they send for Al in the hopes that he will draw Birdy out. And indeed, Al recognizes the behaviour for what it is; Birdy is nesting. As he tries to snap Birdy out of it, for his benefit as well as Birdy's, the story of their friendship is told in flashbacks. We discover that Birdy was never normal, was always obsessed with birds and flying. We also learn that Al is none too stable himself and is afraid that the doctor (John Harkins) will discover that and lock him up as well. He also believes that he, unlike Birdy, would at least have a chance to get out; unless Birdy snaps out of it, he never will.

Apparently, the novel is about World War II veterans, but I have to say that I think setting it during Vietnam works even better. After all, one of the reasons that Al, at least, is so messed up is that he doesn't know what he was fighting for. You could see the reasons for World War II, especially if you were fighting in the European Theatre of Operations and were in one of the units which liberated a concentration camp. But Vietnam was less certain. In essence, we were fighting to stop the spread of an idea, and that's a lot harder to justify, especially if you aren't the sharpest tool in the shed. And Al isn't very bright and Birdy isn't very stable, and the war does bad things to them both. Too, Vietnam had a lot of use of napalm, which killed birds and their habitats, and that would not go over well with someone obsesses with all things avian. I've not read the book, but I think the changes are minor for most of the story and beneficial for the rest. And, of course, most of what happens in the boys' adolescence is timeless.

Al has a drunken, vicious father (Sandy Baron). Birdy has a surly, domineering mother (Dolores Sage). This is the background of the boys' life, though Birdy does have a very happy relationship with his father (George Buck). Birdy's mother probably wants him to be normal, but she can't just berate him into it, much though she may try. She also disapproves mightily of Al, who is Birdy's only human friend, and wants him to make other human friends and stop associating with Al or the birds. But as we see when Birdy goes to the prom, he doesn't know how to relate to other humans. Doris Robinson (Maud Winchester), his date, pretty much throws herself at him, and he doesn't respond in the way she'd hope. By which I mean he basically doesn't respond. And when she asks if she'll see him again, he says of course she will. On school on Monday. You don't have to be Mr. Smooth to know that it isn't exactly the answer Doris is looking for.

But of course, the character never gets a name other than "Birdy." The only character he really relates to entirely is Perta (Bird No. 9, according to the credits), and the woman who sells Perta to him (whose name I missed) tries to encourage him to buy a different bird. "Fliers aren't good breeders," she says, and she tells him that Perta is a heartbreaker. (Of course, the woman has a slightly odd perspective on bird reproduction, given her references to the Bible.) Al knows that to reveal that Birdy has already had an incident where he believed he could fly would be one more bar in Birdy's cage. But it also means that he is not surprised that, when Birdy needs somewhere safe from the world, he retreats into his head and his dreams of flight. Then again, maybe if he'd reminded Birdy that he had a human name, that might have helped matters as well. And might not have suggested to the hospital staff that maybe they were dealing with a preexisting condition.
July 4, 2010
Alan Parker nous raconte une bien jolie histoire, celle d'une gueule cassée tentant de faire retrouver la raison à un ami d'enfance. Ami d'enfance qui se prend pour un oiseau ...d'où le titre du film.
Il est heureux que le scénario ne s'essouffle jamais car le reste (réalisation, musique ...) est très classique, s'accordant certes avec le propos mais ne motivant pas vraiment le spectateur a rester.
Il faut également saluer Cage et Modine qui transcendent le script et sont le vrai atout de ce long métrage.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ June 24, 2011
Though it is an interesting study on the human mind and a slick combination of a variety of genres, the film isn't as special as it promises to be, as it suffers from some underdevelopment, some cheesiness, some overdrawn segments, a cop-out ending and underwhelmingness. Still, it is is supported by very good music, a strong story, compelling characters and a solid final act, in spite of the ending. Still, the real power behind this film is the drama led by Matt Modine and Nick Cage. The film explores a varity of subgenres of drama. The film touches on the friends' coming-of-age, experience in war and the terrible aftermath of this war. The film explores genuine human struggles in many shapes and froms and the transitions feel smooth and don't get in the way of the emotional impact, which still would have been stronger if the rest of the film wasn't executed so underwhelmingly.

Oh man, I hate this review. This bad review should tell how underwhelming this is. I was really looking foward to this and yet, here we are. Still, "Birdy", though nothing too special, remains a moving portrait on friendship and the desire for freedom in many situations, led by strong performances from Cage and Modine.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2011
This movie has a realistic feel, as it tells the story of two friends, one of which is insane and thinks he's a bird. I saw this on TV the other day, I thought the characters were interesting, but the story was slow and boring. Overall it's an okay movie, though.
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