Thursday, April 28, 2011

Culture Shock 04.28.11: 'Birdemic' terrible, but not shocking

“Birdemic: Shock and Terror” wasn't going to be a good movie. I knew that going in. But I had hoped it would be at least an entertainingly bad film — such as “The Room,” “Troll 2” or “Robot Monster.”

And why not? “Birdemic” had been playing to seemingly enthusiastic crowds at various screenings all across the country for over a year before it arrived on DVD and, subsequently, in my mailbox.

I was all set for a good time. I was wrong.

“Birdemic” is so ineptly directed, poorly acted and generally ill-conceived that it only rarely rises to the level of “so bad it's good.”

Half of the movie is just people driving or walking. Where are they going? Who knows? Like Hedley Lamarr, they're probably just trying to find a way off this picture.

So, there's this guy named Rod, played by some other guy named Alan Bagh.

Rod is a software salesman, which isn't important in the slightest, making you wonder why the first third of the movie is devoted to this trivial fact. Bagh is an actor, which also isn't important because he doesn't act. Sometimes he barely reads his lines.

Flubbed dialogue? No problem! Not for writer/producer/director James Nguyen, the man I hold personally responsible for this mess, because he is the man who's personally responsible for this mess. Nguyen is the guy who thought “Birdemic” was a good idea.

Anyway, Rod is in love with Nathalie, played by Whitney Moore, whose forced smiles give away the game. The only “shock and terror” around here is in Moore's eyes, probably when she remembers she's in this movie.

Nathalie is a world-famous lingerie model. (That's their story, and they're sticking to it.) Yet like Rod's career as a software salesman, the modeling gig dominates the plot for no discernible reason, while little things such as Rod's creepy, stalker-like behavior slide right on by.

Rod strikes it rich when he cashes in his company's stock options. He then goes into the solar energy business, which is when you realize Nguyen intends “Birdemic” to be an environmental message movie.


As far as the plot is concerned, none of this is important. One thing you may have noticed by now is I haven't mentioned birds.

The movie's title is “Birdemic.” Doesn't this film have something to do with crazed birds attacking and killing people?

Well, after 40 minutes or so, the birds finally do attack. And by attack I mean they just sort of flap their wings and float aimlessly, because these birds look like the video game characters my Atari rendered in stunning, 8-bit glory in 1981.

The birds also sometimes explode. No, I don't know why.

So, the birds “attack,” and our couple tries to escape, meets another couple and rescues some kids. This is followed by more driving and lots of walking in open areas, just to make it easy for the birds.

Along the way, a scientist and a bad Emo Philips impressionist, identified only as “Tree Hugger,” arrive to give environmentalist speeches before vanishing, never to return. Just like the dodo.

In case you were wondering, the birds are ticked off about global warming. And now so am I, because global warming seems to be the reason Nguyen made this stupid movie.

“Birdemic” does have its moments, such as when the birds suddenly kill people with acidic bird poop and when normal California highway traffic intrudes on what's supposedly an apocalyptic wasteland. But they're not enough.

Or are they? After writing all of this, I suddenly feel better. It's as if “Birdemic” has released all of my pent-up anger and frustration.

Maybe you should see it. Or not. I don't know anymore. But I do know this: Like Rod's sales job, it doesn't matter anyway.

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