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The Big Year (2011)



Average Rating: 5/10
Reviews Counted: 102
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 61

Though made with care and affection for its characters, The Big Year plods along, rarely reaching any comedic heights.


Average Rating: 5.6/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 17

Though made with care and affection for its characters, The Big Year plods along, rarely reaching any comedic heights.



liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 21,030

My Rating

Movie Info

Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson are at a crossroads -- one is experiencing a mid-life crisis, another a late-life crisis, and the third, a far from ordinary no-life crisis. From David Frankel, the director of The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me, comes a sophisticated comedy about three friendly rivals who, tired of being ruled by obligations and responsibilities, dedicate a year of their lives to following their dreams. Their big year takes them on a cross-country journey of wild and



Howard Franklin, Mark Obmascik

Jan 31, 2012


20th Century Fox - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (103) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (61) | DVD (5)

The result is an offence-free, mild entertainment in which everyone from cast to scriptwriter seems to be winging it.

October 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Failing even to attempt genuinely humorous gags or scenarios, and incapable of conveying the thrill of its obsessive pastime or the majesty of the animals themselves, this feel-good male weepie remains comedically and dramatically grounded.

October 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Unfortunately, these comic geniuses are kept caged by the wan script and direction. The best gag in the film is the opening title card; the best joke, a throwaway by a day player.

October 17, 2011 Full Review Source: New Yorker | Comment (1)
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A very mild movie, but in the nicest sense of the word.

October 17, 2011 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What a waste that three of our finest actors are utilized as glorified bit players in such an instantly disposable comedy.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor | Comments (2)
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Big Year has charms: Not a jawdropping flock of them, but a number of sweet insights and warm laughs just the same.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Faintly amusing, not wacky at all, considering this cast.

December 31, 2012 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

The Big Year is completely predictable and full of way too many bird-watching montages set to inspiring music, but it's such an upbeat, cheery film that it's pretty hard to resist.

February 23, 2012 Full Review Source:

If you can get past the obviously obscure subject matter, you'll find a really sweet film beneath.

February 13, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

If you go into it not expecting big comedy, "The Big Year" can be an enjoyable diversion for an evening. But it helps if you like nature.

February 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis | Comment (1)
Movie Metropolis

Frankel and co might have taken a bolder step into the darkly comedic look of the birder's psyche and added more of a gust of air into this film's feathers ...

December 8, 2011 Full Review Source:

If you are stuck in a rut and really want to follow your dreams, try this gentle, light-hearted comedy.

December 8, 2011 Full Review Source: Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post

The opposite of the quiet, contemplative activity ornithology is supposed to be, this may well be the joke, in which case it's the only one.

December 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

A charming little narrative movie that is so amiably ridiculous that you're sure it must have been invented... The three stars bring their most satisfying games, their comedy small and human-scaled rather than broad and slapsticky..

December 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

A comedy with fewer laughs than measles.

December 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

A feather-light tale that never really takes off.

December 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

It's theoretically possible for laughs to be gouged out of this scenario, but you won't find them here: every move, every joke, every emotion is heaved lumberingly into place.

December 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

The Big Year is as glossy and inert as Martin's face, which these days seems to require more foundation than the Burj Khalifa.

December 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Even though it's rather corny and sentimental, this colourful comedy-drama holds our interest mainly because it's about a subject we'd never imagine watching a film about.

December 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Just a load of planes, cranes and Himalayan snowcocks.

November 30, 2011 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

Engaging, low-key comedy enlivened by likeable characters, strong performances and an original central premise, though it's slightly undone by an overwritten script and a grating, ever-present voiceover.

November 30, 2011 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin find a formula for blandness

November 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Habit | Comment (1)
Movie Habit

Veers close to being The Bucketful-of-Birds List. So pleasantly decent and hesitant to be complex that it's rather simple-minded; it just doesn't make an obsession sing to us.

November 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

In some alternate universe, a much better version of The Big Year exists, one that embraces the essential, insular weirdness and romantic fanaticism of the birding community it chronicles.

October 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Even if you don't know a sapsucker from a seagull, The Big Year displays unusual heart, and respect for a pastime that could easily be mocked.

October 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Tampa Bay Times
Tampa Bay Times

Audience Reviews for The Big Year

This film is nice. Now, there is nothing wrong with the word nice, it may not be the most exciting adjective in the world but there is nothing wrong with what it represents. Ok, I'll try to go one better, this film is pleasant. I'm not trying to be funny, it's just one of those non-offencive and just down-right nice films that is just pleasant to watch. I know people were disappointment considering the 3 main high energy cast members, each with a unique comedy style but what did people really want to see? Did you really want this to be a 'Goofy', 'Slapstick', or even 'Gross-out' comedy. I certainly didn't and I'm relieved it wasn't. I suppose it's like Birding itself, easy to make fun of but it's actually quite a lovely thing to do. There is nothing wrong with appreciating the simple things in life, if you agree, I recommend this film to you.
July 2, 2014

Super Reviewer

Wasted My Time ON This One. 1 star 4-22-13
April 24, 2013
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

The Big Year is an amiable, dull film with a star studded and underused cast of fine comedians who are unable to make this worth seeing. It's about bird obsessive bird watchers, but you won't care. I was wondering if bird watching was the problem, in that it's just not interesting enough to merit being a movie subject, but there are movies about ostensibly deadly dull pastimes that are riveting because of high stakes and a great script. See 'Clerks', 'Office Space', etc. This has neither.

Apparently, the goal for major 'birders' is to see the most bird species in one year (on the honor system, you don't actually need to produce evidence!). This lame film is about three characters going head to head to achieve this. Steve Martin, looking strangely beaten throughout the film, seems to have the most screen time. I'd go along with him almost in any film, so intelligent and warm a comic presence, but I stayed with him here out of train wreck empathy. (I wish there was an actual train wreck!! Here his saddest moment is missing a plane). He plays a successful New York mogul on verge of retirement.

Jack Black, a divorced office drone who lives with his parents (Brian Dennehy and Diane Wiest, even the most minor characters are accomplished!!) is his competition. Finally, Owen Wilson is the most arrogant and successful bird watcher in the world, and he's the villain.

Wilson and Martin have beautiful long suffering wives (Rosamund Pike and Jobeth Williams) and Black has his eyes on fellow birdwatcher Rashida Jones. I won't waste your time with more plot description. This film has lovely locations (B.C. standing in for various U.S. birding meccas, like the Aleutian islands and the New Mexico desert) and wonderful shots of birds.

Screenwriter and director David Frankel has made a career out of successful low key comedies (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley and Me). For example, Marley and Me was about a couple who adopt a dog. Their marriage is framed by the relationship with the dog and somehow, it's very moving and you care. This film doesn't care enough to raise any stakes. Everyone is so nice and has very little to lose. He tries to make us care whether Owen Wilson's wife will leave him because she's trying to get pregnant and he ignores her to have his 'big year'. She eventually leaves, and he doesn't change or care at all, due to a poor script and Owen Wilson acting limitations. Why should we give a damn?

If you are falling asleep and would prefer to watch something that you won't care enough to rewind to catch up when you wake up, this is your movie. I marvel at the waste of money and talent.
April 7, 2013
Josh Morris

Super Reviewer

I'm not sure what it is about Steve Martin, but I just adore him. He is charming, and funny. I am NOT a fan of Jack Black, for the most part, but I even enjoyed him in this. The rest of the movie is chock full of familiar faces...Owen Wilson included (great job by him, also). I'm not sure why this received such low ratings. Maybe people see this stellar cast, and expect to be knocked over with laughter during every scene. This was just a really nice, lightly chuckle, smile a lot kind of movie. I prefer this...
July 15, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Kenny Bostick: Only he knew the price he paid, to become the greatest birder of all time.
    – Submitted by Henry S (22 months ago)
    1. Fuchs: I think I broke my arm.
    2. Kenny Bostick: Shhhhh... Shut up.
    – Submitted by Lianna P (2 years ago)
    1. Brad Harris: There is going to be a major fallout in a few hours!
    2. Bill Clemont: Nuclear fallout?
    3. Brad Harris: Bird fallout.
    – Submitted by Brian C (2 years ago)
    1. Kenny Bostick: The trick is to keep your eyes on the horizon.
    – Submitted by Brian C (2 years ago)
    1. Kenny Bostick: The birds wait for no man.
    – Submitted by william b (2 years ago)
    1. Brad Harris: Of all courtship rituals in the animal kingdom, the most spectacular by far is that of the bald eagle. The male and female climb to dizzying heights and then ...join in free fall, plummeting toward earth, locked in each others embrace, separating only at the very last moment.
    2. Stu Preissler: God, I miss Edith.
    3. Kenny Bostick: Yeah, I kind of miss Jess.
    – Submitted by Jayathra L (2 years ago)
View all quotes (21)

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