The Big Year

The Big Year

In Theatres: 
Oct 14, 2011

Cyclists have the Tour de France. Tennis players have Wimbledon. For birdwatching enthusiasts, they have a Big Year. It’s a growing competition among birders to find who can see the most species of birds within the U.S. in a calendar year.  World record holder Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is looking to extend his record this year, while longtime birders Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) and Brad Harris (Jack Black) are embarking on their first Big Year ever. Bird watching is serious business, though, and if you want to win a Big Year, you’ve got to be ruthless.

The Big Year brings together three comedians as they fight to see the most birds this year. Bostick’s previous record is in the 730s so Stu and Brad have their work cut out for them. You see, doing a Big Year requires time and money. Kenny has a wife who’s not too keen on her husband gone for most of the year chasing birds. Stu has finally retired from his high end business job…again, but can he stay away for good this time? As for Brad, he’s failed at practically everything else but he feels that this is his year and his time for glory.

You wouldn’t think that Martin, Wilson, and Black would make a good trio, but surprisingly the three work well together. Jack Black is his typical goofy self with Steve Martin balancing him out with some more sophisticated humor. Owen Wilson is somewhere in the middle as the guy you love to hate. I was a little disappointed at how people like Anjelica Huston and Jim Parsons were underused in the film, however. When you have three main stars, though, it can be difficultt to fit in equal screen time for all.

Honestly, I though a film about watching birds would be quite boring, but it’s funny to see just how crazy some of these people are about them and how they’ll travel to some of the most remote places around just to get a glimpse of a rare bird. There’s even a hotline to call for information on specific bird sightings. What’s even more hilarious is that I bet there are actual people like this in real life.

Bird enthusiasts will no doubt fall in love with all the various species of birds depicted in the film. Even if you’re not that into birds, there’s the underlying story of each character and their reasons for doing a Big Year. Just learning about a Big Year itself is interesting enough as well. This film has something for everyone.

It would be difficult to not find something to laugh at in The Big Year. Its comedy spans across generations from people who grew up watching Steve Martin live on comedy stages to the younger crowd who are more familiar with the slap-stick shenanigans of Jack Black.  

The Big Year will most definitely be a big hit for families and bird lovers alike.

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Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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