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Pretty Bird
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Reviews & Ratings for
Pretty Bird More at IMDbPro »

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

"Pretty Bird" doesn't have much of a story but it has great characters

Author: napierslogs from Ontario, Canada
11 July 2010

"Pretty Bird" is about entrepeneuring a 'rocket belt', which is a real invention. It centers on Curtis Prentiss (Billy Crudup) who at one point in the film says "It's not just a rocket belt, it's an attitude." That says exactly what this film is, it's not about a rocket belt, it's about the attitude of its characters.

Opening and closing with Billy Crudup's Curtis, he brings together Rick (Paul Giamatti) and Kenny (David Hornsby) as partners in his rocket belt innovation company. It's not about what they do, but who they are. They are all deeply troubled men. The characteristics that we see in Crudup's and Giamatti's characters completely drive this film; they are flawed and we can almost put our finger on all of their insecurities and needs but there is more ticking beneath the surface. Without sounding like a love song to Billy Crudup, I have rarely seen a character brought to life the way Curtis was. In one word, phenomenal. In three words, breathtaking, heartbreaking, pioneering.

Unfortunately for all of its brilliant character work, the film stumbled with its story line. At times it was a little slow moving and as it neared the finish line it started meandering in other directions. It does seem pretty disjointed but it also just wanted to build up its characters even more.

Listed as a dark comedy, that is probably accurate. A very intelligent film with its humour, and its many dramatic elements makes it seem dark. Kristen Wiig, as usual for her, comes away with one of the most memorable, funny scenes in the movie.

Its ending can seem unsatisfying, but don't see "Pretty Bird" for its story line, see it for its characters, its smart humour, and Billy Crudup in the role of a lifetime.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Don't invest in this venture!

Author: criticall from United States
17 August 2010

I have become a big fan of Paul Giamatti of late. To be fair, he was great in this as he always seems to be. All of the acting was very good, and for some time the movie was engaging and funny, but man did it fall apart in the last 1/3 or so. It is the worst movie I have seen in some time.

There were elements of humor and even suspense, but the story really didn't make any sense, and not in a cool quirky way either. Also the use of Kristin Wiig for such an insignificant role is a waste of her talent.

Don't bother with this one. Try Cold Souls for Giamattites and even Whip It for you Wiigies!

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Inspired by real 'rocket science' events, the ending left me unsatisfied.

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
29 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The foreword script in the intro tells us that rocket belts were real, they worked, but the projects were dropped years ago. But now they are the subject of this movie.

Billy Crudup is a dreamer, Curtis Prentiss, who wants badly to be successful. So he seizes on the idea to develop and market a modern rocket belt, one that a person can strap on and fly. But he needs money and he needs a rocket scientist who can do the invention. Crudup is one of the better actors that too few know about, and he is superb here.

Enter Paul Giamatti as Rick Honeycutt, recently unemployed but who worked for 20 years in the aerospace business. He is a genuine rocket scientist. But he has a very rough manner, with everyone, and soon forgets that he is the hired help, and wants to claim his invention for himself. (Be cautioned, this character uses a lot of very filthy language, it is in character, but some may object.)

The 3rd key character is David Hornsby as Kenny, who is running a pretty successful retail mattress business. Curtis happens to be Kenny's best friend and when Kenny says he has an idea but needs working space and a financial infusion, Kenny says "count me in" even without knowing what the project is.

So Rick sets up a lab in the vacant part of Kenny's building, while Curtis names himself president of the company and sets about trying to sell the idea of his project to venture capitalists. It is a rough sell and Curtis always seems out of his league.

Soon friction develops and Curtis and Rick compete for leadership and the possession of the working model of the rocket belt.

It is a fun and quirky movie, which in general I enjoy, but the ending left me hungry for some resolution. Crudup and Giamatti are both excellent in their roles.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

If Wile E Coyote Formed a Rocket Belt Corporation

Author: from United States
2 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First, a general impression the film was mucked around with in editing. Maybe it was a scripting problem. I've seen this in the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" which was pared down and pared down. Unfortunately it cut deeply into the bone. Same thing for the "Solaris" remake.

Kristen Wiig disappears. Her arc never really starts and there is no closure.

The abrupt ending leads to an unsatisfied feeling.

Some bad guys are introduced but never fleshed and only partially explained. One has a single scene and is never heard from again.

Though marketed as a comedy (and it initially veers that way), it becomes deadly serious. The tonal shift jars and detracts.

And I just wanted more.

That said, I enjoyed the film. Giammati is always a joy as is Cruddup.

At the root it's a character study: the volatile, paranoid and violent Rocket Scientist Giammati has a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas; Cruddup's overcompensating, delusional, near con man/President reeks of failure; Kenny, the unquestioning money man, is the poster child for ineffectual and weak.

These three misfits conspire to create a rocket belt introduced by Cruddup who spools the scene from "Thunderball" in which Bond escapes via Bell Jet Pack.

Off and running on Kenny's money, the trio do create the belt. After a successful test, paranoia and distrust creeps into their relationship.

The dream Cruddup sold the others disappears - figuratively and literally.

Worth a look. Certainly better than the average brain dead fare, but may disappoint as it's a glimpse of how brilliant it could have been. A near miss of a near miss.

Read the source book instead.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Crudup and Giamatti are so good, but the ending is just as bad.

Author: MBunge from Waterloo, Iowa
21 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm going to say a lot of nice things about this film. Before I do that, unfortunately, I've got to deal with Pretty Bird's ending. That's because it's really, truly, incredulously bad. This movie is like sleeping with a supermodel and then finding out she gave you crabs. It's like eating a sumptuous meal only to come to the last bite and sink your teeth into a human finger. It's like buying a 200,000 dollar sports car and then having its engine explode when you're pulling up your driveway. Writer/director Paul Schneider did a masterful job for most of this motion picture but then it's like he lost the last 15 pages of the script and then forgot those pages ever existed. This story doesn't conclude. It awkwardly ceases. Pretty Bird has the sort of ending that, if you care enough about how a story wraps up, will retroactively discredit and undermine everything you watch before it.

With that out of the way, I loved everything about this film except those last 5 minutes. There are a couple of award worthy performances from Billy Crudup and Paul Giamatti, a marvelous screenplay of interlocking personalities and new perspectives on stereotypes you think you understand, imagery that matches the uncomfortably human with the aspiring ideal and a soundtrack that's often affecting and never annoying. Slap an even halfway decent ending on this thing and it would clear the high jump of cinema greatness with 6 inches to spare.

Curtis Prentiss (Billy Crudup) is a handsome man with a dream to build a jet pack, which everyone in this story calls a rocket belt, and somehow make a lot of money with it. He enlists out of work aerospace engineer Rick Honeycutt (Paul Giamatti) to build it, with the whole operation funded by Curtis' old friend Kenny (David Hornsby). Now Kenny, though ably performed, is the same been there, done that closeted homosexual character that was cliché back in 1998. Curtis and Rick, though, are marvelously realized human beings of depth and dimension. Curtis' self-confidence and charm are not just compensation for his insecurity and self-loathing, they're a desperate attempt to cover for the fact that he doesn't connect with other people on an emotional level. The only person Rick seems emotionally connected to is his wife and you get the sense he doesn't know how that ever happened. Rick's a smart man who never bothered to learn how to interact with others and, before Curtis comes along, finds himself unemployed with nothing to show for all his brain power. Curtis is a man of ambition who drives a car that's far too old for any ambitious fellow.

And writer/director Schneider doesn't just create two compelling characters. He also does interesting things with them. There are two scenes in particular that are exceptional. One sees Curtis trying to talk a potential investor into putting his money into their rocket belt company. Curtis is the salesman/marketing guy who's usually the subject of derision in fiction and real life, but Schneider almost forces the audience to look at Curtis trying to persuade a disinterested moron into giving him money Curtis absolutely has to have. It's a job that requires Curtis to embrace humiliation and servility and you can't help but respect his willingness to take on the burden in order to play his role in rocket belt enterprise. The other scene is of Rick making love to his wife, smartly played by Elizabeth Marvel. They're going at it doggie style on their bed and at first, it appears like this is going to be the joyless coupling of two middle aged people in a joyless union. Rick even leans over to get a drink of water in mid fornication. But then Rick and his wife start to talk to each other. Not about sex but about the phone call Rick got from Curtis sounding him out about the rocket belt idea. As they talk you can see them both getting more and more into the sex as it blends together with the conversation as an expression of the bond between them. They're not fictional constructs having a great movie screw. They're a 20 year married couple having a pretty good Tuesday night boink. There's a bunch of moments like that throughout Pretty Bird that flesh out the characters without excessively complicating their nature.

On the way to its fershluggina finish, this is a delightful ride along the merry go round of three people caught up in a crazy dream. As long as you can put up with the disappointment at the end, you should definitely give this movie a look.

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a man with a dream and a drawing.

Author: ksf-2 from southwest US
29 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Lots of quirky characters! Even before the film starts, we are told what the film is about on a couple title cards. That was a little disappointing, since I like to experience the film as it unfolds, without knowing details ahead of time, I wish they had saved the title cards for the end of the film. Ah well.

Billy Crudup is Curtis Prentiss, a scientist with a dream, some eccentric traits, and a schematic for a new invention. He takes on Rick (Paul Giamatti) to help develop the product. Giamatti is also the producer of the film. We seem to spend a lot of time watching Rick and his wife in their odd marriage, so that must be important. Ken Owenby (David Hornsby) is yet another quirky member of the team – he's a high talker, with a silly little barky dog, and hugs a lot.

Pretty good film, but they could have shown a few less scenes of Prentiss' annoying habits…..or maybe at least show some cool, science-y stuff for those of us who dig that. Maybe show what things worked and what didn't. They kind of go right to a successful demonstration without showing us the failures of their invention. They also spend a LOT of time on how Prentiss is a crummy boss and has trouble interacting with others. The conflict between Prentiss and Rick grows to a showdown between them, but at the end of the film, we aren't sure what the actual resolution was. When this is for "artistic reasons", I understand it, but here, I think some major plot scenes were chopped off for this shorter DVD version. Frustrating. Written and directed by Paul Schneider. The entry on IMDb shows 120 minutes, but the DVD itself is 98 minutes, as it states on the DVD back cover. I will update IMDb to include this DVD version length.

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Staggering hole in comic possibilities

Author: Robert Arley from United Kingdom
4 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First I'd ever heard of this film was yesterday when I saw its billing in the British Radio Times magazine for the UK Film4 channel last night. I was intrigued because of the subject matter which is close to my heart. (I have attempted a screenplay covering some similar ground) I was delighted and highly impressed as the movie commenced. The characters and narrative line were compelling. Where would this go? I wondered. Halfway through, despite conflicts and challenges, the grumpy engineer (Paul Giamatti) manages to create a prototype device. Cut to deserted hillside. The three hopeful entrepreneurs are staring at a fourth character we have not met before who is wearing the rocket belt and is about to field test it. Wow. Is this would-be pilot nervous? Fearful? Who knows. Was there a discussion between the three principals as to who would have the honour or terror of being first to try the flying machine? Nope. The test pilot takes it up and flies it successfully, if briefly, then lands again in one piece, and we move on (still never hearing from the flyer). Abruptly the delight and credibility of this story disappeared. Three great central characters who are then sadly left floating in the air by giant holes in the logic of the plot. Highly watchable. Sorry to focus on a spoiler, but it seems the key to what went wrong with a wonderful proposition.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Good Idea at the Time?

Author: Tim Kidner ( from Salisbury, United Kingdom
17 September 2012

Actor Paul Schneider turns his hand to directing, for this, his first and only time. With the big star pull (at least now) of Paul Giamatti and a premise along the lines of inventing rocket belts (I think they've been referred to as 'jet-packs' over here) and seen in Bond movie(s), you'd think this would be better known.

Or, at least available. I saw it on Film 4 and Radio Times online couldn't be bothered to give it a rating even and provided only the skimpiest of plot outlines. But it seems to be available via Amazon as region 1 DVD only, precluding the majority.

It started out OK, when it was vaguely predictable. Some guys (three) seem to phone each other up and suddenly meet and next thing they're moving into an industrial unit to test their invention. Apart from some interesting and nicely diverting fantasy sequences, it's a mess. You don't care for any of them, Giamatti shouts obscenities all the time and Billy Crudup looks uncomfortable. My mind lost interest and before long concentration had melted and I wanted it to end. I don't really know where the story went, if at all and the ending was vague and stupid. Apparently, there's kidnapping and betrayal when someone steals the only rocket belt in existence....

With bursts of inappropriate opera singing as background music, one could tell that Schneider is attempting satire and humour but that's completely smashed by an insensitive and heavy hand. It's no wonder that this one-time director realised his mistake and went straight back to acting!, while Giamatti must have shuffled it out of his CV.

My 2/10, rather than just one, is for some of the performances and I'm sure some people would find it endearing and no doubt, amusing and all that. But at nearly two hours it's just too long and any attempts to stay afloat whilst watching it is as likely as keeping those rocket belts in the air for any length of time. Disappointing

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1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Quirky Comedy

Author: Richard_vmt from California
1 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is another quirky independent film, this one about a pair of business-oriented dreamers who are all attitude and no substance. The great idea is a working rocket belt, something neither of them know anything about. What they have instead is an abundance of business models, motivational pep talks and winning slogans.

For the actual rocket belt they succeed in hiring an actual unemployed rocket scientist who begins to develop a prototype.

Much of the humor is Gogolesque, treading a fine line between absurdity and apparent success. They are successful in raising money from dreamers like themselves. There is a broad satirical implication that "the money people" are a class apart requiring to be spoon fed a certain business formula unrelated to reality. Nevertheless, the project is satisfyingly rejected by the big-time investors, summarily dismissing it as needing "more science".

The film is thus very amusing from the outset and I was prepared for more amusing developments. But the story takes some unfunny turns. The rocket belt becomes the focus of in-fighting which is carried almost to the point of bloodshed. This turn of plot probably because it is based on a true story.

The film turns into one focusing on male bonding or the lack of it. The two original entrepreneurs are best friends with a bond that supersedes anything, including reason. The third partner, the rocket scientist, engages with the two to gain recognition, but in the long run the original promoter is implacable. At issue is the prototype rocket belt itself which he has hidden. You aren't supposed to ask the seemingly reasonable question why the scientist, who is the only one who knows how the thing works, doesn't just build a second prototype--maybe this time one capable of better than the 30 seconds flight time.

So much is this an all-male film that what might otherwise have been a romance developing between the original promoter and Kirsten Wiig's character is simply dropped, as if for lack of interest.

It all adds up to a flick which starts out very funny and is worth watching to the end, but with a little let-down so far as humor is concerned.

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