The Birder (2013)
Starring: Tom Cavanagh, Mark Rendall, Graham Green, Fred Willard, Tommie-Amber Pirie. Directed by Ted Bezaire. Running time: 85 minutes
What happens when your dreams don’t come true? Well, you can decompensate and have a temper tantrum, withdraw and cocoon, indulge in drugs and other self-medication regimes or, in a word, deal. For Ron Spencer (Tom Cavanagh), an enthusiastic birder who dreamed of becoming head of ornithology at the local park, the latter is the last thing on his mind. Ron wants to get even with the interloper who stole his dream appointment, as well as all the other interlopers who’ve ruined his life, including the body builder who moved in with his soon-to-be ex-wife and daughter. His only friend is Ben (Mark Rendall), another outsider who used to be a student at Ron’s high school. Both men are dealing with a sense of loss, disappointment and abandoned dreams, but if they look hard enough at the foliage of their own experience, they might find a rare bird of happiness. Without breaking down the metaphor to a fine pulp, the script penned by Ted Bezaire and Michael Stasko is designed to showcase the transformation of our central hero, as well as pave the road for some comic interactions with the other characters – most notably Ben, the Park President played by Christopher Guest veteran Fred Willard, and his daughter (Cassidy Renee). Cavanagh does all the heavy lifting and he’s fantastic, bringing dimensions to dialogue that has all the energy of a bloodhound on a hot day, but you can feel a heaviness set in as the script veers into slapstick, leaving everyone flapping — but never taking flight.