The Big Year

MPAA Rated – PG
It’s 1:40 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

The Big Year
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, Jack Black
MPAA Rated: PG
Released By: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Kiddie Movie: It’s safe for them, but not too funny.
Date Movie: My wife fell asleep, but thought the parts she was awake for were okay.
Gratuitous Sex: Some talk and hints but no one gets it on.
Gratuitous Violence: Just some slapstick, birding violence.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Chuckles.
Memorable Scene: There is a touching scene with Brad and his dad.
Memorable Quote: Nothing really.
Directed By: David Frankel
Cool Things About the Blu-ray: “The Bird Migration” featurette about the making of what kind of cool.

It’s a movie that has three, comedic powerhouses in the likes of Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson. It’s a movie that is ripe for making fun of a culture many might find odd – namely birding. It’s a movie that’s rated PG? Uh oh. It’s “The Big Year.”  Okay, maybe not that big of an “Uh oh,” but an “Uh oh,” none-the-less.

So, it turns out a “Big Year” in the birding world has to do with an informal competition among birders (people who like to spot birds), in trying to spot the most species of bird in a period of time.  For our movie, the lead Big Year-er is Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson).  For our movie we have two other main characters, Brad (Jack Black) and Stu (Steve Martin). Brad is in a dead-end, no fun job, Stu is the elder statesman of a company and looking to retire, and Kenny is a lost soul whose relationships always fall apart because he likes birds.

And so it’s a new year, and for a movie length we get to see our three birders travel the countryside in search of birds, and the competition is fierce.  Yup, things start out kind of calm, with the birders calling a magical phone number telling them where the next, magical sighting seems to be, and they all flock to the various locals. They are cordial, nice even, until it starts to come out that they are trying to get the Big Year record, currently held by Kenny.  Kenny, of course, doesn’t like this, and some trickery starts to happen.  And all along hilarity is supposed to ensue, or at least lessons about life.

Here’s the thing – I felt like “The Big Year” wanted so much to be like a mockumentary about birders, kind of like the movie “Best in Show,” but sadly it tried to keep things a little too nice, namely the PG rating, to push the funny to the next level, which is too bad because Wilson, Black, and Martin do their best to be their funny best – it’s just the movie can’t get there.

It’s not that I didn’t like “The Big Year,” because I sort of did, but I just wanted more.  It was a nice enough movie to hang out on a couch and relax for an evening, and it’s kid safe if you want them around, but don’t expect a lot of hilarity, just some chuckles along the way to find out who actually has the “big year.” 2 ½ stars out of 5.

As far as the Blu-ray, as a lot of birding is scenic-oriented, it looks beautiful, and is beautifully shot, so it will look great on your big-screen.  The deleted scenes are probably better off deleted, the gag reel isn’t that funny (I’m finding that most movie-people can’t put together a decent gag reel), but if you do want a nice explanation of how the movie was made, it does have a great featurette called “The Bird Migration” to help along.

That’s it for this one!  I’m The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Drillbit Taylor

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:40 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Drillbit Taylor
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Alex Frost, Josh Peck, Owen Wilson, Leslie Mann
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: 2008
Directed By: Steven Brill

This trailer really made me laugh, and with Judd Apatow involved, there is a lot potential for this movie, and instead of teens at the end of their high school years (ala “Superbad”), Drillbit Taylor gives us life from a Freshman perspective, from three dudes getting bullied like there is no end. What to do for them – Put out an ad for a bodyguard. And who is the bodyguard they can afford? – Well it’s Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), who infiltrates the high school to protect them and works to give them all kinds of pointers on how to stick up for themselves, as well as grow up.

As much as the high school seniors in “Superbad” were fantastic, these Freshmen look even better. I’m just curious as to what the rating of this movie will be. Not that I really care, because I’ll be there anyway, because I can totally relate.

That’s it for this preview! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!


MPAA Rated – G
It’s 1:56 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Movie Stats & Links
Starring: The voices of: Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Paul Newman, Richard Petty, John Ratzenberger, Larry The Cable Guy, Owen Wilson
MPAA Rated: G
Released By: Pixar / Disney
Release Date: 2006
Kiddie Movie: Oh yea, it’s for them, and for adults as well.
Date Movie: Good for all boys and girls.
Gratuitous Sex: Cars can’t really get it on.
Gratuitous Violence: Some rubbing, but rubbing is racing.
Action: Race car racing type.
Laughs: Lots of chuckles and funniness abound.
Memorable Scene: I won’t say where, but the one I got weepy during.
Memorable Quote: Nothing totally stands out.
Directed By: John Lasseter

Alright, I’ll just get this out of the way so I can get along with this review. During “Cars,” in a scene near the end of the movie, I got a little weepy. Sure the characters were cars, but there was just something about that scene touched me a little bit and left me with a tear in my eye. Luckily I was able to pull myself together before the lights came up, so no one in the theater saw it, but there, I said it, “Cars” made me weepy. Let’s get to the story…
Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is a rookie racecar set to win the Piston Cup. He’s cocky, thinks he can go it alone, won’t follow the advice of his pit crew, but the crowd loves him. In the final race of the season Lightning, Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton, the world’s greatest actor), and The King (Richard Petty), all tie so there is no clear-cut winner for the Piston Cup. So, what to do? Well, you have a three-car race-off to determine the champion. Our threesome now needs to make their way to California, and Lightning thinks he can get a leg up on the competition, and maybe a new sponsor, if he can get there first. So he convinces his truck/trailer driver, Mack (John Ratzenberger), to pull an all-nighter, but this doesn’t work too well for our would-be hero as some things go amuck and Lightning finds himself having to do some community service in the town of Radiator Springs. There he learns some lessons about life, and about racing, thanks to the likes of the townsfolk, but mostly because of Sally (Bonnie Hunt), a cute little Porsche, and Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), an older curmudgeon with a secret past. And for Lightning, he learns these lessons just in time for the Piston Cup finale.

I suppose that’s an easy enough synopsis of this movie because if you have kids, you will have to take them to see it, and if you don’t have kids but liked the other Pixar films, you will know that you should get decent story with some amazing animation. As a member of the latter, I got exactly what I was looking for. The story, although somewhat simplistic, and pretty easy to figure out where things would go, is a nice look at how a cocky rookie athlete can learn some lessons, namely that things aren’t always about him. As far as the animation I found it unbelievable. I think what helped this movie on the animation side was really the lack of human forms, because that usually takes you back to “yea, it’s a cartoon,” but for this movie, alright, other than the mouths and eyes on the cars, there were times you could probably take a scene from this movie with a couple of cars cruising down the road, put it side by side with a picture of a couple of cars cruising down a road, and you’d be hard pressed to tell which is the animation scene and which one is real. Pixar, though, does a couple of things better than a lot of animation companies, and that is to emphasize and get the facial expressions, and especially the eyes, perfect. This allows all of the cars to be able to translate exactly what they are feeling emotion-wise, even though they are, well, cars.

I really enjoyed “Cars,” and it seemed, so did all of the kids in the theater I was at. Some reviewers are complaining about Owen Wilson as the voice of Lightning, but I thought he was a great fit. Larry the Cable Guy was great as Mater, and who better than Cheech Marin voicing Ramone, an Impala low-rider. Maybe it doesn’t have the touchy-feely ness of some of the other Pixar movies because, well, cars don’t have arms so they can’t really hug, but they can snuggle, and the animator folks did a fabulous job of evoking emotions out of them. The credits were fun, also, especially with John Ratzenberger poking fun at himself and his Pixar movie history.

A decent story with fabulous animation, and that’s what I always like from a Pixar film. In the ranks of their movies, I would probably give “Cars” a solid four stars, but it did make me weepy, so I’ve got to add a ½ star. With that, “Cars” gets 4 ½ stars out of 5 from me. I was a little unsure if Pixar could truly show cars having feelings, but they pulled it off. A lot for the kids, a lot for the adults, so pay full price, buy a lot of popcorn and sodas, and enjoy.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!