What in the World is Wrong?


“Let’s give this a try – it’s got a great premise,” I said, as I pulled up our DVR recording.

“And this is the movie American Sniper lost to?” Sarabeth asked.

“Yeah. It better be one heck of a movie.”

Needless to say, our expectations were set high for Birdman since it won best picture at the last Academy Awards.

We had watched American Sniper last week and were both extremely moved (I think that word is a gross understatement). I have never had so much respect for our troops before watching it. I want Chris Kyle’s book for Christmas and I’ll be getting his wife’s book for Sarabeth.

And then we watched Birdman. It had all the ingredients going for it – Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, bm_spanish_online_1sht1fantasy/reality, award-winning… but in all honesty, it just plain stunk. It stunk so bad we agreed to turn it off twenty-five minutes into it. I felt like the whole thing was just a pity party we were forced into because this has-been actor was no longer in the spotlight.

Honestly, I kept tuning out. The dialogue was bland and middle-school-esk. The plot was hard to get involved with, and I just can’t connect with/feel sympathy for a character who had it all. He’s lived his high life and reached his pinnacle. I don’t want to watch him wallow in his self-pity when I’m still trying to reach my own pinnacle in life.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy ended up either a) getting a second big break but not finding fulfillment in it or b) killing himself because he felt unappreciated out of his prime.

But I’ll never know, nor do I really care to.

In this house, American Sniper was the worthy movie of the year. I may love the genre Birdman falls under, but the deliverance was lame and petty. I typically do not like modern war movies (don’t get me started on Hurt Locker), but this one, American Sniper, is the Saving Private Ryan of the war in the Middle East.

I think it’s our patriotic duty to watch it and pay homage to a true American hero.

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Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

10 thoughts on “What in the World is Wrong?

  1. I haven’t seen either movie, but I would be more inclined to see American Sniper (and I still want to see it) vs. Birdman. Like you said, the character in Birdman (from what I’ve seen in the previews) doesn’t appear to be someone you can really relate to. Where, at least in American Sniper, even if you can’t relate to the character, you at least develop an understanding for what they go through. Great post.


  2. Totally agree with you! I was born and raised in a military community and have always had the utmost respect and appreciation for those who service and protect. I read American Sniper when it was first released and was totally moved by Kyle’s patriotism and story. When I’d heard he’d been killed, I cried and know the tears will flow again when I see the movie.


  3. I’ve seen both, and while I believe you have a solid pedigree in which to gauge films based on the first fifteen minutes, I must be the first to pronounce how wrong your assumption is in this instance.

    The first fifteen minutes are not fantastic, and neither are the first 30. But key elements from these set up a plot and a situation in which you cannot help but empathize with the main character.

    Have you ever had to put everything on the line with a bleak future, and the only thing you’re holding onto is the passion you undeniably have?

    If not, I can assume you are not much of a risk-taker, which also explains the fact you were not willing to give an art-form a complete try before writing it off, a fallacy riddled with arrogance and pretentiousness about one’s initial opinion.

    I believed you, as a seasoned author, would be the one to remember that judging an entire piece based on a smaller sampling is an injustice to both the artist and the observer.

    American Sniper is one I have seen, and it is by far THE best war movie I have ever seen. However, no matter how inspiring, heartfelt, or respectful a film was, it does not necessarily correlate to having more cinematic merit.

    Yes, Birdman was pretentious at times, but it had self-awareness, and actually took jabs at many Hollywood cliches. It is not my favorite movie, but at its conclusion I had to step back from the computer screen and reflect on its message, which may be the most powerful I have ever been hit with.

    And it helps that your “A” and “B” were actually dead on. You see that mini-jolt of pride you experienced while reading the previous sentence? I wish to highlight that same jolt of energy can prove fatal in writing realm. You were wrong with both “B” and “A”, as a matter of fact, and I can assure you’ll be pleasantly dazzled with how the film rips to shreds your above assumptions because Alejandro González Iñárritu as the co-writer anticipated the audience’s feelings, and did a film accordingly.

    In my opinion, when a film can take one on an emotional journey unexpected before viewing, it has succeeded on all fronts.

    Again, I adored American Sniper, but before the film I knew the ending would be sad, there would be intense, decision-making scenes, and sprinkle in war propaganda to make American Sniper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed! I admittedly have only seen “Birdman” out of the two films, but this is one where you have to stick around longer than just the first 15 minutes. The buildup is huge.

      I also think it’s worth considering that one doesn’t always have to relate to the main character–sometimes, you have to sit back and enjoy the plot.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t compare “Birdman” to “American Sniper,” because I have only seen “Birdman,”
    but I think that it would be difficult to appreciate what “Birdman” was saying (it was really a message about art and the contemporary artist and society) without seeing the whole thing. “Birdman” may or may not be your cup of tea (I thought it was funny and insightful, once I understood where it was going [which took awhile because it’s absurd], but my friend found it boring and fell asleep), but I think it probably needs more of a viewing than you gave it, to say for sure. I’ve heard great things about “American Sniper,” and am glad you enjoyed it so much.


  5. I think I have both on my DVR. A friend told me that she hated Birdman. Thanks for the heads up. Now I know what to spend my tme doing.


  6. I was so excited to see Birdman was on HBO finally and eagerly sat to watch it the other night but only made it through 40 minutes. I love all the actors involved and it was an award winning film so I also went in with high hopes. I did give it a good try, almost made it an hour before I finally decided to just watch something I’d already seen that didn’t win awards but I knew would entertain me, Best in Show 🙂


  7. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s that the Oscars is a bunch of crap. The only thing that matters is the people’s choice awards and sometimes the Academy Awards. No one who should win ever does, and if there is a Disney cartoon out, forget about even trying to win an award in animation. It’s all politics. Hollywood doesn’t care about the art form anymore. That’s why so many film students are walking out of college and into the independent film making world. Bird man wasn’t great, it had a nice message at the end but I wouldn’t watch it again, and I don’t think it deserved the win.


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