Birdy - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Birdy Reviews

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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.
October 23, 2011
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.
July 28, 2011
Modines performance is much better than Parkers direction so worth seeing for that. This could have been a great film but remains an interesting one.
½ June 27, 2011
revu en VF sur France 3 le lundi 27 juin 2011 de 22h55 à 00h45 !
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.
½ May 18, 2011
Stylishly directed by Alan Parker, who captures a nice montage of working-class Philadelphia in the 60's, but unfortunately, fails as a parable on 'the horrors of war' because, well - there's not a lot of war in it. Not enough to fully explain what drives bird-lover Modine into thinking he really is a bird, contorting and perching himself in a variety of unusual positions in his Army hospital cell. Works more as a coming of age story told in flashback, as Nick Cage forms a love/hate friendship with the weird kid down the block, than it does a psychological drama - the pay-off is something of a letdown, and the gag ending is weak. Soundtrack by Peter Gabriel is very good, though.
½ April 7, 2011
A great film about best friends and the effects of war...
March 2, 2011
C'est lourd , lent , inintà (C)ressant ... Que dire que Birdy restera un film très anonyme , et je ne peux en dire plus ... Un film , où le thème ,c'est les pigeons . Dans le fond , c'est assez drôle , mais y a rien de bien . Un scà (C)nario vachement mal trouvà (C) , une histoire qui ne cesse d'avancer , et une fin , qui accà (C)lère un peu les choses , sans totalement rendre une fin brutale ; c'est un film poubelle . J'ai eu du mal à le finir , et pour cause, à part le personnage de Birdy rien ne m'intriguait . On a envie de dire " c'est quand que tu vas parler " . C'est trop rà (C)pà (C)titif , et niveau rà (C)alisation , c'est pauvre . Atroce , un film lent, ennuyeux . Deux à (C)toiles, pour les quelques moments assez attachants.
Super Reviewer
February 12, 2011
Real great performances by Matthew Modine and Nic Cage (I know right?), the movie however just isn't my cup of tea.
February 1, 2011
Really good movie and very sad also, worth watching.
Super Reviewer
January 17, 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.
January 12, 2011
I really really wanted to enjoy this film but something at its core left me cold .

Modine and Cage are good as childhood friends scarred both mentally and pysically by the Vietnam war ,telling in flashback as it does their story of life in Philly and beyond

The film looks good and Peter Gabriels soundtrack is stunning but you get the feeling all the bird imagery is used to cover a weak story and boost the running time .

I felt Alan Parker could have given us more combat trauma rather than endless bird birds and more birds.

Glad i watched it but feel it could have been soo much more
January 3, 2011
Excellent vietnam war film. Powerful performances. The only film i like cage in.
½ January 1, 2011
My favourite Nicholas Cage movie.
December 2, 2010
One of best movies I have ever seen.
½ November 29, 2010
This movie is probably better than my impression of it. Intensely symbolic and allegorical, darkly comic at times, with a strong anti-war message. The ending was awesome.
November 16, 2010
A strange and interesting film.
½ November 4, 2010
pas vu depuis tres longtemp , mais quel film !!! le meilleur role de Nicolas Cage pour moi , et Matthew Modine n'a pas eu la carriere qu'il meritait ( Birdy , Full Metal Jacket , Fenetre sur Pacifique etc..) un tres grand film !! Alan Parker est vraiment un maitre !!
½ October 28, 2010
en general muy buena, con el sello de Alan Parker, ... reafirma porque es de mis directores favoritos...
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