By: Addison Wylie
I don’t blame you if The Birder’s premise doesn’t send you aflutter. Ted Bezaire’s comedy is about a polite bird enthusiast (a “birder”) seeking retribution because he didn’t win the ‘Head of Ornithology’ position at his cherished National Park. Did I also mention Tom Cavanagh plays the lead birder? I’ll give you a moment to catch your breathe.
I’ve always seen Cavanagh as someone who’s still trying to figure out where he fits in the grand acting scheme. He isn’t particularly engaging and his “nice guy” qualities act as a charisma vacuum.
However, it turns out that if you give Cavanagh an alternate personality along with some quirks and passions, he actually pulls off an endearing performance. That’s the case with his role of Ron Spencer. Ron is pathetic and almost the exact embodiment of Ned Flanders, but Cavanagh’s portrayal of this pushover is the best part about The Birder.
Jim Annan also shows up in a brief supporting role with a few good lines. His appearance made me wish he got the comic relief role of Ron’s cohort Ben (played by Mark Rendall). Most of Ben’s flat banter would’ve still been duds, but Annan is a stronger comedic force than Rendall’s misdirected exaggerations.
The Birder just sort of…sits there. Much like Ron, Bezaire’s film is inoffensive and squeaky clean. But, it’s also vanilla to a fault.
Apart from a small number of mild chuckles, The Birder runs a tame course until it’s humourless. It’s then when The Birder starts to drag as the cast tries to uncover any evidence of comedy to work with.
The Birder isn’t a terrible movie, but it’s a bland stick-in-the-mud. It strikes similar safe chords Welcome to Mooseport hit a while back. When compared to each other though, Mooseport has claws and teeth.
Catch The Birder at Toronto’s Canadian Film Festival on Friday, March 21 at 7:00 pm at The Royal. Before the film, the audience will be treated to the short film The Golden Ticket.