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Birds of America (2008)

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A regular guy struggles with a repressive home and professional life, as well as making amends for the trouble his free-spirited brother and sister cause about town.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Betty Tanager
Ellen Thomas
Lindsay Allen ...
Roller-Blading Girl
Will Toale ...
Young Male Cop
Vivien Kells ...
Sleeping Girl (as Vivien Kells O'Brien)
Keith McDermott ...
Man in Street
Marisa Zalabak ...
Woman in Street


When Morrie was a teenager, his parents died, leaving him a house, an irritable bowel, and siblings Jay and Ida to raise. Jump ahead 20 years: Jay is homeless, fits poorly into society, and was recently injured; Ida is jobless and sleeps with strangers; Morrie is married to the long-suffering Betty who is waiting for Morrie to get tenure before having children. They constantly have to kiss up to their holier-than-thou neighbors, one of whom is Morrie's department head. Morrie brings Jay home to recover, Ida decides to visit, the siblings make the neighbors ill at ease, a strange woman visits, and the cops want to talk to Jay. What about Morrie's irritated bowels? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Some families defy classification


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexuality and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 February 2010 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

The Laws of Motion  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ida: If you are gonna live totally outside the lines, all of the people moving on the inside of them are gonna flatten you.
See more »


References The Mummy (1932) See more »


Written by David Gould
Performed by The Inner Banks
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User Reviews

Odd Birds. Good Eggs.
26 January 2008 | by (Park City) – See all my reviews

You might be getting a little tired of movies about dysfunctional families. I know I am. I think I've seen at least three at Sundance this year. But Birds of America manages to break the mold and feel fresh and alive from the outset, delivering a warm, funny, zany, tender and compassionate film that left the audience smiling and satisfied.

Morrie (Matthew Perry) is an uptight university professor anxiously seeking tenure, which requires the approval of his department head, who lives next door. Morrie and his wife Betty (Lauren Graham—Gilmore Girls) live in a house he inherited at 18 years old after his mother died and his father committed suicide. As a result, Morrie raised his brother Jay (Ben Foster) and sister Ida (Ginnifer Goodwin), both of which grew into their problems. Ida is substance-abusing and promiscuous, and Jay a deeply gentle and sensitive soul whose actions are almost completely unfettered by advanced thought. They reunite in the family home when Jay gets run over by a car (he was laying in the road) and Morrie, who still feels more parent than brother, asks him to move in for a while. Without asking permission, Jay invites Ida to join them, stressing Morrie and Betty's relationship and jeopardizing his career with their outrageous behavior.

Matthew Perry is surprisingly good in his deadpan portrayal of an overwrought brother who cares deeply for his siblings, often at his own expense. Goodwin is a pleasure as well, as the addictive personality with the carefree spirit. But Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma) is great, and despite having such a naturally funny role, manages to never play Jay for laughs, creating an endearing and memorable character. Growing up without parents, these three have formed an unbreakable bond, with unconditional love and acceptance, and a tenderness and compassion unlike any I can remember in movies. Elyse Friedman has crafted a remarkable script, and Sundance veteran director Craig Lucas (Secret Lives of Dentists, The Dying Gaul) brings it to life with a funny but light-hearted and gentle touch.

98 of 109 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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