I finally got around to seeing Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Innocence). What I haven’t done since as of me writing this is listen to the spoiler-filled podcast reaction from the Gabbing Geeks on the subject of this movie. Well, I may get to that soon, too, but for now, let’s ask a basic question:
Is Birdman a Geek Movie?
SPOILERS below the cut.
Um, not really.
What’s that over there?
Let’s break it down.
Geek Elements of Birdman
The movie opens with a shot of Michael Keaton meditating in his underwear, sitting in the lotus position…while floating in the air. Superpowers sure do make for a geek movie. At various points, he flies, moves stuff with his mind, and, well, that may be about it. He also seems to mostly do this when he is alone, except for maybe at the final shot of the movie when Emma Stone, playing his daughter, maybe sees him, maybe doesn’t, doing something that most people can’t do.
Furthermore, Keaton’s character, Riggan Thompson, plays a character that might as well be Michael Keaton, a one-time big-time movie actor who was famous for a period playing a winged superhero named Birdman. He walked away from the roll at one point in time or another and keeps seeing and hearing Birdman-the-character talking to him.
Oh, and supporting roles go to Emma Stone and Edward Norton, both of whom also did superhero movies.
Non-Geek Elements of Birdman
It’s more about an actor trying to be taken seriously as an artist. Much of the flight and telekinesis could have been delusions. Heck, the movie makes clear Keaton’s one long flying shot was a delusion. My wife felt the whole superpowered thing was in Riggan’s mind.
Actually, that basic plot of an actor trying to do something explains perfectly while it won Best Picture. The Oscars love that sort of stuff, showing the power of movies and such to, you know, be awesome.
But early on, Riggan loses a mediocre actor for the play he’s doing and starts rattling off the names of different real-world movie actors and finding out every single one of them is in a superhero movie. Then he badmouths Robert Downey Jr. over Iron Man.
Plus, Norton’s character seemed a lot like what the real Edward Norton is supposed to be like on set. There’s a reason Mark Ruffalo replaced him as the Hulk.
So, really, more of a show-biz satire. It certainly wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously at times, but wasn’t exactly a laugh-out-loud comedyfest.
There may be one kind of geek that this does appeal to, namely the Movie Buff type, if that can be a geek. You know, the geek type who is happiest just sitting down and watching movies, classics, contemporaries, all kinds.
Other than that, its not a geek movie. I would say it is a good movie, but at best its a satirical look at Hollywood’s current obsession.