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!!!