Bye Bye Birdie (1963) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –

In spite of its iconic title, this film is NOT about a pet bird that flew away. Instead, it is a crowd-pleasing and light-hearted musical comedy that has essentially become a classic. Starring Dick Van Dyke (in his film debut), Janet Leigh, and launching the career of Ann-Margret, Bye Bye Birdie is a delightful motion picture that captures the essence of the time period of its release when it originally premiered in 1963.

A Toast

Bye Bye Birdie is one of the most famous musical films ever produced just because its music makes audiences feel joy and happiness as they listen to its timeless soundtrack. In fact, the songs have been parodied numerous times, including a parody of the song “What’s the Matter with Kids Today?” on an episode of The Simpsons. The film also features a title song that was written specifically for this film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. The film itself went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for “Best Picture- Comedy or Musical” thanks to its glorious music and phenomenal performances from the entire cast. This film is a great example of a “feel-good movie”!

Beer Two

Even with its acclaim and influence of pop culture, the film has been criticized for its somewhat mature content. For example, the song “How Lovely to Be a Woman” is a slightly risqué musical number because it features Ann-Margret changing her clothes on-screen (in a way that appeased the censors) while also talking about teenagers going through puberty as they transitioned to being adults. The performance of the title song has also been considered a bit too sexy for a family musical-comedy film. Nevertheless, the mature content in Bye Bye Birdie is justifiable to a certain extent because it features the universal fact that kids do not stay kids forever. Perhaps that is why the father (Harry McAfee/Paul Lynde) keeps on singing/asking the famous question, “What is the matter with kids today?”


Bye Bye Birdie might have received limited recognition from both the Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press, but it remains a pop culture phenomenon. Many high school drama departments still do their own productions of this beloved musical. It also provided a nice escape for moviegoers in 1963 who wanted other forms of entertainment outside of the highly publicized and controversial film Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor. And who knows, maybe Conrad Birdie won’t be gone forever even though Kim McAfee (Ann-Margret) sang “bye bye” to him. (pun intended) Bye now! 😉

Bye Bye Birdie (2018) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: during every musical number

Take a Drink: for all of the telephones being used in the “Telephone Hour” musical number

Double on your Drinks: for every reference to real birds (like hummingbirds and nightingales) during that same “Telephone Hour” musical number

Drink and be Merry: every time Dick Van Dyke “draws” happy faces during the song “Put on a Happy Face”

Drink a Shot: every time the title phrase is sung

And Celebrate with your Favorite Drink: whenever this film makes audiences feel joy in such a delightful motion picture musical extravaganza!

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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