The World Premiere Of Birdemic: Shock And Terror

Ed. note: Videogum has long tracked the progress of Birdemic, from cult YouTube phenomenon to cult IRL phenomenon. This weekend, the movie finally had its world premiere in Los Angeles, hosted by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. Our Hollywood Correspondent, Alex Blagg, was there.

When Gabe first sent me the Birdemic trailer and asked if I’d like to go see a screening of it, I thought, “No, because this looks terrible”. But then I remembered that, according to Internet rules, things that are terrible are actually hilarious and amazing (plus Tim & Eric would be there so it might be a good chance to rub elbows with some CELEBS), so I agreed. Below are my thoughts on the screening, including non-ironic translations in parenthesis, for those of you who might not speak Internet.

I now consider myself to be one of the lucky few (cred-seeking hipsters/bloggers) who can count themselves among those who were actually there for the world premiere of what might end up being the greatest film of all time (will in no way ever be considered a great film). You can’t imagine the joy (confusion and amusement) I felt when I saw “Birdemic: Premiere Sold Out” up there on the marquee, and this cute (sad) little red carpet for the film’s actual stars (people I did not recognize but would come to deeply pity in a matter of minutes).

When I made my way into the theater, there was this awesome (insane and terrifying) found-footage video art and weird (atonal brainwashing) music playing on the screen while the Cinefamily members threw free beers at everybody. I thought this was a pretty badass way to get the Birdemic party started (actually served as some kind of essential priming of our brains for the loooooong 90 minutes of Birdemonium that awaited us).

Tim & Eric came out to tell us how much they loved (were also astonished by the terribleness of) the movie, and really helped set the proper tone (good-natured bewildered amazement) for the whole evening. Because honestly (honestly), the only way to watch this movie is in an old-timey movie theater with a crowd of chill bros (drunken comedy hipsters) cheering at each hilarious (ridiculous) reminder of Birdemic’s utter brilliance (incoherence).

Like, I can’t even imagine watching this whole masterpiece (disaster) in any other context. You’d have to be a total champion (a sad person or a blogger or, let’s face it, both) to seriously spend two hours of your life watching this Birdsanity (watching woefully inept actors drive around in a blue Mustang for what seems like eternity while occasionally fumbling their way through a few lines about Global Warming while poorly animated .gif-birds float motionlessly and make terrible screeching noises).

There’s simply too much awesomeness (cinematic ineptitude) going on here to even try going into great detail on the best (worst) and funniest (most utterly nonsensical) parts, but here are a few highlights (lowlights, during which I felt most sorry for everyone involved):

  • The amazing dialogue (an odd mixture of on-the-nose exposition, nonsensical yelling, and bizarre/schizophrenic editing with lots of inappropriate silence).
  • Alan Baugh’s supreme acting genius (dead-eyed befuddlement), for which he should be given a Best Actor of All Time Oscar (for which he should be given a restraining order from cameras). On a non-ironic side note, I felt kind of sorry for the female lead, Whitney Moore, who seemed oddly out of place as the only person in the whole movie who wasn’t hopelessly confused about what they were doing. She kind of reminded me of the actress Naomi Watts was playing in Mulholland Drive. Also, kudos to her for soldering through that “sex scene” which culminated in her having to haul a mattress and box spring around a Super 8 Motel room in her bra and thong panties whilst Alan was inexplicably fully-clothed.
  • The hilarious plot (mostly involving billions of dollars of closed deals, Victoria’s Secret modeling contracts, long extended takes of murals in Vietnamese restaurants, half-baked eco-activism themes misinterpreted from Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” movie, endless atmospheric exteriors of the Half Moon Bay suburbs as seen from a rented blue Mustang, inexplicable explosions, bird slaughter, and staring into the ocean for a very long time).
  • Anyway, there was so much more crazy (ridiculous) stuff that happened, I could go on forever (like most of the movie does, especially after about 45 minutes, when we’re still only about halfway through Act One, still haven’t seen a single poorly-rendered CGI bird despite the film being called “Birdemic” with the subtitle “Shock and Terror”, and the irony has pretty much been sucked dry from the experience, leaving one with the crushing realization that they still have to sit through 45 more minutes of the same aforementioned awfulness).

When the movie came to its awesomely weird (abrupt and wholly unsatisfying) conclusion, Tim & Eric came out to lead the Q&A. They should really be commended for keeping the whole evening fun and chill (as the situation had the potential for real awkwardness since the audience was essentially composed of two factions: the people — along with their family & friends — who made this movie, and the now-wasted people who came to laugh at it. The former group were all pretty good sports and seemed comfortable laughing along with the rest of the latter, but as I was sitting near the ‘filmmakers’ and occasionally glancing at their body language, I couldn’t help but wonder whether they were feeling the slightest bit of self-consciousness about having their work joyously mocked by a room full of strangers. Except for the director, James Nguyen – he was loving every last second of the adulation – fake or not – and kept high-fiving Tim Heidecker throughout the movie’s more ironically celebrated moments. In the Q&A, it became clear that Alan Bagh, as I suspected, might have been the only one with no sense of irony, and seemed somewhat confused about how to react to all of this.)

At the end of the Q&A, the president of Severin films came onstage to present Nguyen a (comically large) check for one million dollars to develop another movie (I think it may have even been for real money? Like maybe you really can make something so awful that it becomes a work of unintentional comedy genius and someone will hand you a giant check for a million dollars? At this point my mental irony/sincerity index was so Birdemic’d that I don’t really know for sure).

So should you actually see Birdemic, or is the trailer enough? Well for the full-blown ironic experience (you don’t watch Avatar in 2D, you know?), you pretty much have to see the whole thing. But for best viewing results, I recommend watching it only in the following circumstances: with a loud and raucous crowd of like-minded irony aficionados, so wasted that you will pass out precisely 45 minutes into the movie, or both (whatever you do, don’t watch the Director’s Cut, which I’m pretty sure is just 48 hours of real-time footage of these people driving around and shooting guns out of a mini-van window).

But in all sincerity, the movie was lots and lots of fun, and whether the people who made it meant to or not, they’ve created something hilarious. At least according to Internet Rules.