The JOE-DOWN Reviews ‘Birdemic’

This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Birdemic.”

The info:

The Movie: “Birdemic: Shock and Terror”

Starring: Alan Bagh, Whitney Moore, Tippi Hedren

Director: James Nguyen

Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A horde of mutated birds descends upon the quiet town of Half Moon Bay, California. With the death toll rising, two citizens manage to fight back, but will they survive Birdemic?

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 19 percent

Our take:

Brown: While, like we discovered last week, mutant ninja turtles would be a plague on our society, there’s an all-too-real plague ready to threaten all civilization as we know it.

The BIRDEMIC.

Or, mankind. I don’t know. Honestly, the movie we watched this week isn’t exactly clear about that.

Much like when we visited “The Room,” I decided to go for one of the most notable “worst movies” of all time after I heard about this movie on “How Did This Get Made” and a review by JonTron during a YouTube deep dive late at night.

And as far as an actual film (not movie, because this is a work of art), this may be the worst one we’ve ever experienced here on the JOE-DOWN.

Is that fair to say, Froemming?

Froemming: Oh yeah. This was an assault on all of my senses. The audio going in and out messed with my ears. The editing being as choppy as Lake Superior on a windy day messed with my eyes. The acting messed with my gag reflexes. I was in physical pain when the end credits began to roll.

It was almost perfect. All it needed was Tommy Wiseau to make it the best worst movie I have ever seen. That title still goes to “The Room.”

Brown: I’ll say this: As far as the actual movie medium, “The Room” is a better movie than “Birdemic.”

And, we find that out pretty early when “Birdemic” begins with five minutes of credits. That’s typical of a film, right? But here, we get cell-phone quality filming of a car driving slowly for five minutes with an askew camera angle and a terrible sans font. Also, it says “Supporting casts.” I guess there was more than one supporting cast?

Froemming: This movie was 75 percent pointless exterior shots, 25 percent movie magic.

Brown: By movie magic, you mean soulless staring by our lead, Rod?

Froemming: Rod is hands down one of the creepiest things I have seen in a film. He has that rapist/serial killer quality to him that chilled me to the bones, down to the robotic voice and dead eyes. Even creepier was the fact he stalks a woman he sees in a cafe to her car, asks her out on a date, and she agrees. He says they went to high school together. Then asks her where she is from. Obviously they went to the same school, only he attended it in the Fourth Dimension.

Brown: The girl, Natalie (the movie has her cast as Nathalie. No, I’m using Natalie) needs to run from Rod. Rod is the T-1000 of acting. I’m surprised he doesn’t ask her about the whereabouts of John Connor.

Froemming: Natalie agrees to go out on a date with a walking, talking personification of every red-flag-at-a-party you learn about at a college’s orientation day.

Brown: Well, first, we get what amounts to a SHOT-FOR-SHOT look into Rod’s life. We see, in read time:

  • Rod enjoying breakfast with the news on. The news broadcasts goes from local tragedy to “LOL Polar Bears are dying.”
  • Rod gets gas for his car. Also, gas is like $4.30/gallon.
  • Rush-hour traffic! Yes, we get some hot merging action like in “Mitchell.”
  • In the most wooden bit of salesmanship I’ve seen on film, Rod makes a million-dollar sale for his software company.

Froemming: Would have been a $2 million sale, but Rod — probably an alumni of Trump University — gives the customer a 50 percent off deal. If I was Rod’s boss, he would have been fired for that.

We also see a slice of life from Natalie. Natalie does a modeling gig that looks suspiciously like that Bicycle Man’s business/apartment from “Diff’rent Strokes.” Run away, Natalie!

I also want to bring this up: Was I the only one who felt Natalie looked like she was in one of those hostage videos throughout the entire film? I swear she used morse code with her blinking at one point so viewers could see her cry for help.

Brown: Nope, willing. During the “HDTGM” podcast, they interview the actress, Whitney Moore, and she says she auditioned for the part in a parking lot. And she was still in high school when she took this role.

Also, I’m mesmerized that Natalie’s professional modeling gig was taking place at a ONE-HOUR PHOTO. I mean, did she need to get some film developed like some hipster with a Pentax and decided “You know what? I’ll model a kimono while I’m here.”

Well, her down-and-dirty photoshoots work somehow because she later gets a call for a cover model job for Victoria’s Secret.

I mean, sure…

Froemming: Hey, both Rod and Natalie had a big day. And because Rod has no sense of social skills, he calls her and asks her on a date in the weirdest phone call I have seen in a film. And she agrees. She flirts with this guy. I can’t say it enough: Rod is creepy as (REDACTED) in this. I swear the director was hell-bent on creating a character that was creepier than Denny from “The Room.”

And amid all of this, there are some signs that Mother Nature is going off the rails. It is so subtle that it is damn near impossible to pick up. I swear the actual Birdemic was an afterthought to a wildly disturbing rom-com.

Brown: So I watched this movie with a co-worker, and during one of the newscasts (which acts as our nature exposition), one of the images had the Geddy watermark on it. We did not catch the exposition because of how hard we were laughing.

And before we forget, before the date, we see that Rod’s company has been acquired… FOR A BILLION DOLLARS!

And when they hear this news… I mean, I’ll let the image speak for itself. We at the JOE-DOWN can’t do it justice.

I was making better transitions during middle-school film projects. And it’s not like this movie was made on a whim: According to Moore, filming took SEVEN MONTHS.

Also, no birds up to this point.

Froemming: The scene above, when this company is sold for a cool billion despite its salespeople giving 50 percent off million dollar sales, was truly disturbing to me. Look, this summer I have been watching “Twin Peaks: The Return” and I love weird, crazy stuff. This scene was somehow creepier than prime David Lynch.

So, let us continue forth with Rod and Natalie’s double-date….did we skim over Rod’s even creepier work buddy?

Brown: If Rod were smart… or felt any emotion, he would refer to Rick as workplace proximity associate like Ron Swanson in “Parks and Rec.” And Rick is pretty much a dumbass frat boy who clearly lives in a hotel room and loves making out with his girlfriend Mai in her bathing suit. This movie shows people in houses, but when it comes to sex, disgusting Motel 6 rooms are the way to go.

So we get a double date with Rod/Natalie and Rick/Mai, and where does the night begin? By watching “An Inconvenient Truth.”

As someone who took a girl on a date to “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist” in high school, I feel safe as an expert in saying that “An Inconvenient Truth” would be the worst movie to take a date to. You’d be better off taking a date to “Psycho” while blankly staring at the woman for the entire movie.

Froemming: Since we didn’t see the inside of the theater, I’m guessing Rod stared at Natalie with his dead, Ted Bundy eyes the whole time.

Lost in the Rod-is-a-psycho and Natalie-is-ignoring-every-red-flag romance is the shoehorned environmentalism. We gloss over these because of how creepy this relationship is. It is like being distracted by seven-vehicle pile-up involving a clown car during a solar eclipse.

Brown: The way I described Rod in my notes was that he’s the human embodiment of a limp-wristed handshake.

So after the movie, we see the two dance in a green-screened club where my co-worker and I were convinced we were sharing an LSD trip.

Can we take a second to talk about Natalie’s interaction with her mom? I will say this: The mom in this movie is my favorite performance because I legit don’t think she’s acting. She’s so (REDACTED) genuine.

Froemming: She was too good for this movie. The mom deserved better than this. And when she asks Natalie to bring Rod over for dinner, I truly feared for this woman’s life.

Brown: Later in the movie, Rod asks the mom about retirement. And with her dialogue looking like it was in a different room than Rod and Natalie, my theory is they took footage from her audition on a casting couch and used it in the final product.

Now, to touch on the environmentalism you mentioned, it’s very easy to gloss over but this movie is very, very preachy. It’s why I don’t like this movie quite as much as “The Room.” In line with seeing Rod’s everyday life, we see him buy a solar panel for his house. Then later, he says that his Mustang is a hybrid and gets 100 miles/gallon. And before date No. 2, Rod takes the money he made at his software company to make a green start-up company, which gets $10 million in funding.

Everything is going perfect for these characters. Also, STILL NO BIRDS.

Let’s get to the memorable second date for Rod and Natalie.

Froemming: This song made my year!

This is the whitest white people dancing I have ever seen in my life, and I am from St. Cloud.

Brown: So much to unpack here.

First, they spend the day at the Art and Pumpkin festival, which sounds a lot more fun than this movie is. Then, they have dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant (pronounced Vet-na-mes by Rod). I’ve joked several times in life that first dates feel like job interviews with the generic questions and all. But my god, Rod may as well have asked Natalie what her goals were in the next five years or what her social security number is (for office paperwork reasons).

Now, for “Hangin’ Out with the Family,” where’s the rest of the band? I hear background singers, where are they? Is anyone else actually in this restaurant? Is this just karaoke night?

I got answers to none of these.

Froemming: It is like Rod fell to Earth and is just figuring out how to act like a human — throughout this WHOLE (REDACTED) MOVIE!

Brown: Are we to assume that Rod is a deformed Conehead?

Froemming: After jamming out to “Hangin’ Out with the Family,” Rod takes Natalie to a Motel 6 — despite the fact we saw this man owns a house.

And, because I guess the director only had sex one time and assumes that’s how it always is, Natalie — much like Mai before her — wears a bathing suit when her and Rod make sweet, sweet love. And this scene made me want to vomit, because it was pretty disturbing.

Brown: Since we have talked about how Rod is a robot here, do you think when the lights went out their hotel room, his eyes started glowing red? Maybe Natalie felt she was having sex with a truck.

And while Natalie is actually wearing lingerie unlike Mai, I wish she had more clothes on. Did you see her feet when they were making out on the bed. Natalie’s feet are dark black! That is so damn disgusting!

Froemming: I am not Tarantino, I don’t gawk at people’s feet.

Brown: HOW THE (REDACTED) COULD YOU MISS IT?! She looks like she got one of those coal jobs Trump promised and showed up to her new job without shoes.

Froemming: I was too grossed out by their making out to really pay attention to anything.

Brown: I can understand that. I wrote in my notes that the making out in this movie looks like two carps trying to breathe outside of water.

Now, we are just over 45 minutes into this movie and we get this panning, silent shot of the skyline. And then… BIRDS!

Froemming: I’ve seen better graphics on GeoCities websites from the ‘90s than the birds in this film.

Also: 45 (REDACTED) MINUTES TO GET TO THE (REDACTED) BIRDEMIC! What the hell? I sat through the creepiest rom-com in history to get to the saddest-looking CGI my eyes have ever seen.

Brown: Want some perspective, Froemming? This movie came out in 2010. What movie came out in 2009? “Avatar.”

Froemming: I’ve never seen “Avatar” but I have now seen “Birdemic.”

Birdemic: 1

Avatar: 0

Brown: Why the birds explode, why the eagles shriek like seagulls and sound like airplanes, why the birds dive-bomb into buildings like a kamikaze, we will never find out.

My theory: The birds objected to Rod and Natalie’s romance they decided the entire town they live in needed to be wiped from the earth.

Of course, the movie’s reasoning is global warming.

Froemming: This movie was so bad I wanted to stop believing in global warming out of spite.

And yes, the birds are now attacking humans after Rod and Natalie had sex. This is how nature prevents abominations. End human life and Rod and Natalie’s demonic spawn will never walk the Earth.

Brown: Trying to escape the hotel, Rod and Natalie find another couple, an ex-Marine in Ramsey and his girlfriend Becky. Ramsey has a bunch of weapons and a van to get away. But who needs guns to fight off the Birdemic when you got coat hangars?

It was at this point where I determined that I love this movie.

Froemming: It took 45 minutes to get to the actual Birdemic and the action to start. And it sucked. It was like sitting through “Stairway to Heaven” to get to the kick-ass guitar solo, and having Jimmy Page play a clarinet instead.

Oh man, imagine how weird these actors looked swiping the sky with coat hangars pretending to kill invisible birds. Oh wait, it looks just as weird with the CGI birds.

Brown: Then, the foursome come across some cars where people were killed by the birds. But they hear a child crying and we see a young girl under the car, trying to hide from the killer birds. They get this child and when the birds come to attack, Ramsey opens the trunk of another car and A CHILD HOPS OUT. What the actual hell?

Forget the birds. Forget the gross romance. This disturbed me more than anything. That kid was locked in the trunk of a car in the California heat that is only getting worse due to global warming.

Froemming: Not only that, but these birds spit poison and blow up in flames when shot, leading me to believe they are related to the monsters in “Cowboys Vs. Dinosaurs.”

Because it is not addressed in the film at all, but is mentioned on the Wikipedia page, the birds have mutated due to global warming. They also attack gas stations because gasoline and whatnot.

Brown: After stopping at a gas station for supplies and paying $100 per gallon for gas from a gas station manager who clearly was a gas station manager, the group looks to wait out the Birdemic by… having a (REDACTED) picnic.

Go indoors! Stay in the van! Do you know what birds like? Stray food!

Froemming: Before the picnic, the crew is briefly stopped by a hillbilly. He pulls a gun on them for their $100 per gallon of gas. Then birds come down and kill him. AND THEY LEAVE THE GAS CAN THEY HANDED HIM BEHIND!

Brown: Not to mention the guy’s gun. Ammo is finite. Take what you can get. Have you never played a survival-horror video game?

Can’t forget the guy on the bridge during the picnic. He’s wearing a mask and telling Rod and Natalie to go away because he’s clearly a troll. And when Rod says “Hey, can we just talk at the picnic area,” dude’s like “LOL, sure.” And, more global warming preachiness. You know what, director James Nguyen? Just email me a Powerpoint. I’m more likely to retain your BS that way.

Froemming: Dr. Jones felt like a crazy old man walked on set, and they just filmed it because why the (REDACTED) not?

Brown: After the botched robbery, it’s time to go in the woods for a clean source of water… nevermind that 10 minutes ago Rod got a case of bottled water at the gas station!

And here, we are greeted by an actual tree hugger.

Froemming: I just want to say before this Ramsey and Becky are killed. Whatever.

Brown: I forgot Ramsey’s death and subsequent “Why can’t we give peace a chance” monologue. I feel like I’m back in college with all this unsolicited global warming and anti-war commentary shoved down my throat.

Froemming: Now we meet Tom Hill, our resident tree hugger who preaches more on global warming and made me want to buy a bunch of aerosol cans and spray it into our atmosphere out of spite.

Brown: He’s a skittish man who lives in an actual treehouse like my 6-year-old dreams and is spooked by a mountain lion’s growl. He gives some speech about how some beetles used to be in the forest but aren’t anymore due to high temperatures. Can we just focus on the Birdemic, guys?

After this run-in, and because I don’t think Rod, Natalie and the kids know how to ration their gas station food, they need to eat. So, they go fishing. During the Birdemic.

Birds eat fish. I just figure this needs to be said out loud.

Froemming: With Rod and Natalie as these children’s saviors, they are doomed. Also, I don’t buy that Rod knows how to fish.

Brown: Oh, that fish was clearly frozen. Also, who boils fish? Because that’s how they serve dinner. All I could think is the part in “Napoleon Dynamite” where Napoleon says “I caught you a delicious bass.”

Froemming: When the children say they want Happy Meals rather than boiled fish, it was the only time I have agreed that McDonald’s is the better choice.

And thus, on the beach in the middle of a Birdemic, we see the crew saved by doves! Because doves are peaceful, we like peace, hippies, granola and all that. This script was made up of slogans from every college dorm room since the 1960s.

Brown: We need another Vietnam to thin out their ranks a little.

So, with the doves, the mutated birds decide their violent rampage is over and they fly out to sea.

After this review, I think I’m going to leave my car running until it hits empty.

I have to go get ready for a date. I’m thinking some Vietnamese food and dancing. Let’s go to recommendations.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

Brown: I’ll say no. I enjoyed how bad this was, but it’s a harder movie to enjoy the awfulness than “The Room.” “The Room” definitely had more charm to it. However, I think this should be shown in every film school in the country on what NOT to do.

Froemming: Yes. It was a hot mess. Everything that could go wrong with a film does here. It is worth a watch.

Here is what’s coming up for the next Joe-Down: