The plot of A Birder's Guide to Everything centers on four kids trying to confirm a possible sighting of a Labrador duck, considered extinct since 1875. I'd been asked to check over a draft screenplay to vet its bird content. The movie's premise—chasing a long-gone duck—might seem preposterous. But I was happy to oblige: It isn't every day that someone decides to film a drama built around teenaged birders.

When I first picked up the screenplay, I feared that birding teens would be treated as a bad joke. Fortunately, it was soon obvious that director and co-writer Rob Meyer had tremendous respect and affection for his characters.

That same feeling was apparent later, when I visited the Birder's Guide set. Everyone working on the film, onscreen and off, believed in the project. That belief shines through in the finished film, where the main characters and their personal struggles come across as glowingly genuine.

The duck "discovery" may be the least authentic thing in the picture, but by the time it shows up, that hardly matters. By then, A Birder's Guide has already worked its magic, which you'll be able to see for yourself when it hits the big screen in March.

[video:205446|caption:Preview: A Birder's Guide to Everything]

A Birder's Guide to Everything is in theaters on March 21, and available via iTunes and Video On Demand as of March 11. It stars Katie Chang, Alex Wolff, Kodie Smit-McPhee, and Peter Michael Chen, with Ben Kingsley as the renowned editor of a fictional birding magazine.

This article was originally published with the title "Wild Duck Chase."

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