Dysfunctional families and indie films go together like peanut butter and chocolate, and Birds of America, directed by playwright Craig Lucas, has dysfunction in abundance. Morrie (Matthew Perry), who raised his younger siblings Jay (Ben Foster) and Ida (Ginnifer Goodwin) after their father's death, now lives in the family home with his wife, Betty (Lauren Graham). Morrie is a college prof desperately seeking tenure, and the person who is most in a position to make that happen for Morrie is his friend Paul (Gary Wilmes), who lives right next door with his wife, Laura (Hilary Swank), in their perfect house, with their perfectly maintained flower bed, with their perfectly adorable infant.
Morrie is one of those guys who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he represses his emotions so tightly that the stress of it all has manifested itself in a case of constipation so extreme he has a home office set-up in his bathroom so he can work while trying to ... work all that out. Betty, meanwhile, wants desperately to have a perfect life and a child like Laura, but Morrie won't consider parenthood until he makes tenure. Since their whole future happiness is dependent upon whether Paul recommends Morrie for tenure, both Morrie and Betty go overboard in trying not to offend Paul and Laura -- even to the extent of not complaining that Laura's dog does his business in Morrie and Betty's yard. Unlike Morrie, the dog does not have a constipation issue, so they are constantly cleaning up after it.