The dialogue is fast-paced, spiced with clever double entendre, Hollywood in jokes and literary and social references. The direction is crisp with fluid camera streaking through the theater's backstage, to the roof and even out into the surrounding theater district streets.
When you hire Bill Murray to star in your comedy, his eccentric curmudgeon persona comes with the deal. First-time screenwriter/director Theodore Melfi knew that and desperately wanted Murray to star in his movie, which is based on a true-life experience.
Our 'hero' -- Riggin (literally and figuratively) -- is haunted by the voice of his iconic movie character, Batman, er, Birdman. He is often in the throes of human despair. Or he experiences what might be called the 'magic realism' of levitating, flying and causing much mischief.
The premise itself will bring a chuckle, if you get it. A former movie action star, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), wants to win back his legitimacy as a serious actor. So he has not only written a stage adaptation of Raymond Carver short stories, he's directing it and playing the lead role.
Murray's shimmying in his seedy Sheepshead Bay kitchen, and singing to Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm," are some of the film's many highlights, but he has nothing on Naomi Watts' pole dancing with a baby bump.
The unique blend of locals and visitors stops the Distillery District from being a tourist trap like New York's South Street Seaport. The place feels organic, authentic, warm and inviting. It's steeped in history.