• PG, 1 hr. 40 min.
  • Comedy
  • Directed By:
    David Frankel
    In Theaters:
    Oct 14, 2011 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jan 31, 2012
  • 20th Century Fox

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The Big Year Reviews

Page 1 of 59
bbcfloridabound
bbcfloridabound

Super Reviewer

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

Super Reviewer

April 7, 2013
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.
Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

July 8, 2011
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...
Alexis N

Super Reviewer

April 6, 2012
I didn't know what to expect. I love Steve Martin, I will watch anything with him in it. Jack Black on the other hand.. I'm a little more selective. But this movie was really fun and kinda heartwarming in a way.
MANUGINO
MANUGINO

Super Reviewer

October 17, 2011
Two bird enthusiasts try to defeat the cocky, cutthroat world record holder in a year-long bird-spotting competition.

Excellent Film! A very surprising film which shocked me in how good it was. The plot is simple yet the story really is genuine and very likable that flows so quickly that before you know it, it ends. I didn't know 'Birding' even existed but I'm glad I know now and it's something I possibly can do in the future. Acting was excellent and cinematography was superb. Recommended for everyone, go see it!

In birding, a Big Year is seeing or hearing as many different species of birds as possible in a calendar year. Three men pursue the Birder of the Year title: Kenny Bostick, who's seen a record 732 in a past big year, Stu Preissler, newly retired, and Brad Harris, who narrates the story. Life gets in the way: Bostick's wife wants a baby, Stu's firm needs him for sensitive negotiations, and Brad, divorced and underemployed at 36, has an encouraging mom and a disapproving dad. They criss-cross the U.S. (including a trip to Alaska's westernmost island), follow migration patterns, and head for storms that force birds to ground. Who will win, at what cost, and with what rewards?
LWOODS04
LWOODS04

Super Reviewer

September 20, 2011
Cast: Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Rashida Jones, Joel McHale, Jim Parsons, Rosamund Pike

Director: David Frankel

Summary: Inspired by Mark Obmascik's nonfiction book of the same name, this high-flying comedy concerns a trio of competitive bird watchers who vow to win a contest by spotting and recording as many avian species as humanly possible.

My Thoughts: "I guess this film was as fun to watch as bird watching. Which for me it isn't. For some that are into that kind of stuff, this film will be a joy. I fall in the catergory who foud it to be quite boring. It really didn't get interesting until much later in the film. Most of the scenery was beautiful. The acting was OK. Not the best I've seen from any of the three men, but still solid performances. It wasn't the comedy I was hoping for and wasn't much of a comedy at all honestly. There was a few laughs here and there, but I would call this more of a drama."
Everett J

Super Reviewer

February 25, 2012
You would think a movie starring Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson would be hilarious, right? Wrong. "The Big Year" is a movie about 3 bird watchers who are doing a birding competition called the Big Year. The goal is to see the most species of birds in one year. Yes that is the actual concept of the movie, and turns out its a real life competition too. There's a couple laughs, but overall the movie is tedious, and a complete waste of all three leads. The movie drags, and is way too long at an hour and forty minutes. Martin's character is probably the best, and the movie could have easily been just about his, and made as a drama and been ok(at best). There are a lot worse movies out there than this, but there are so many that are better, I would advise just to skip it altogether.
Phil H

Super Reviewer

February 4, 2012
So this went under the radar it seems which is a surprise really with a lead cast of Wilson, Martin, Jack Black and including many well known faces with cameos throughout.

Not totally surprising after viewing though, the film itself is fine, infact its a lovely original film which is very gentle, easy going and an all round family film smiles guaranteed. The one problem is its not really that funny when its clearly suppose to be a strong comedy vehicle with that cast trio. Must mention a now old looking Brian Dennehy who has a great small role as Blacks father in this that really makes you feel good inside.

That aside it is a great feel good film with some amazing location work and if your into birds then all the better. A more straight laced comedy with all the big names playing it sensible which is nice but the down side being its not overly funny but it still manages to keep you interested.
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
LorenzoVonMatterhorn

Super Reviewer

February 1, 2012
"Everyone is searching for something."

Three avid bird watchers compete to spot the rarest birds in North America at a prestigious annual event.

REVIEW
The Big Year is on the surface a well-judged comedy with Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson, which does make it pretty sellable. And it is a very nice comedy - nothing too manic or implausible: grown men with an obsession for birds compete to complete the Big Year - to be the one who sees the most varieties of birds in one year on any part of American soil. What lifts this to another level is that is really has heart and amazingly it takes you all over the States, and shows you, and makes you appreciate, the 750 or so native and migrating birds that occupy every conceivable type of landscape from sea to rolling sea. It's kind of the nicest ecofilm you'll ever see - all mixed in with some nice observational human and tips about male friendship and male rivalry. All in all this mix makes for a beautiful gentle film that is easy watching.

There are some amusing moments, certainly, but it would be more correct to call it a light drama. Martin and (to my surprise) Black are both very good: I wish Black would lay off comedy and stick with straight acting. The scenery and wildlife shots are gorgeous, there is sufficient dramatic tension in this slight story to keep us interested, the supporting players are all interesting, and at stake is how the three competing protagonists balance off The Big Year against the conflicting domestic demands.
Willy T
Willy T

Super Reviewer

November 7, 2011
There are movies out there that are just simply good times at the cinema. They may be somewhat of a comedy but aren't absolutely hilarious. They may be categorized as a drama but aren't quite tear-jerkers. They may have us going to the movies thinking, "How could this be interesting," but after we walk down the the stairs of the dimly lit theater and out into the lobby we say, "That was good. Not great. But good." These movies are pleasant times at the cinema and nothing more. They're nothing spectacular but they still make us feel good and put a smile on our face. "The Big Year" is one of these films.

The movie revolves around three characters played by Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson. What a great cast. These characters partake in a competition known as a "big year." What is it? Bird watching. Hundreds of men and women look for birds all year. Yet when they find them they don't kill them. They just look at them and write down their species. It's a race to see who can find the most types of birds. And get this. The amount of birds someone finds is only said by one's true integrity. No one checks to see if they're cheating. It's all in one's own honesty.

What fascinates me is that there are really people out there who live like this. Some are not as into the race as others but the ones who are into it, the hardcore ones, those are the interesting ones. Their life may consist of nothing more than a camera, some binoculars, and maybe a hat. That's it. The day they find out the winner of the big year is the biggest day of their life. Nothing else matters in the world to them than being first place in the race. That's incredible to me. And this movie turns it from dorky to cool. This could've been one of the worst movies of the year. Think about it. A movie about bird watching. Really? But it actually came to me as a pleasant surprise. The pros of the film are backed up with a great cast. The chemistry between the three main characters is what makes the movie. Jack Black's leisureness, Steve Martin's old man aspects, mixed with Owen Wilson's know-it-all personality makes for a great trio that's fun to watch.

If there's anything that's wrong with the movie it's that they don't interact with each other enough. We don't see all three of them together until about a third of the way through the film. Otherwise, as far as the cons go, I can't think of much else. There's not that much wrong with the film. It's not a great movie but it doesn't have a lot of bad things weighing it down either. It's one of those rare films where I just can't seem to crack the criticism.

The things that I like about the film also include its many great shots of birds in their natural habitat. The cinematography here is breathtaking and just makes you want to go outside and watch whatever the world has to offer. I also like the little Christmas spin the movie puts on itself towards the end. I love almost anything Christmasy in a film. It puts me in a great mood afterward. So, what's my recommendation for this movie? Well, I'd say go see it. You're not going to laugh a lot. You probably won't shed a tear. But what you will do is be charmed by it's essence and pleasantly comfortable with it's wit. It's a good movie. Not great. But good.
KJ P

Super Reviewer

September 24, 2011
If you want a laugh-out-loud comedy then this is not the movie for you; However, it is great to see the return of many stars that we have come to love, in roles that are not forceful slapstick or over-the-top annoying jokes. This is a very subtle comedy about trying to be the best bird watcher in the world. Even though it's light-hearted PG rating may steer to a younger audience, it is no question that the emotions are directed towards an older audience. It is not the greatest film of the year in any way, in fact it's not even worthy of remembering in a year from now, but for the time being, while it is in theatres, I definitely recommend this film. It has tons of heart, an exceedingly amount of devotion, down-to-earth humour, a likeable cast, a story that really hasn't been done before, and scenery that will take your breath away. With countless star cameos, you will never be driven into boredom, and will always find yourself smiling; Although, I must say that I would have enjoyed seeing Jim Parsons in a few more scenes. "The Big Year" is charming, heart-warming, and funny. It may not have oscar-worthy performances, a smashing script, or a life-altering premise, but it sure does make you feel good and I thoroughly enjoyed this film!
Chiefilms
Chiefilms

Super Reviewer

October 17, 2011
Excellent birds. That's all i have to say.
Richard C

Super Reviewer

October 10, 2011
I really loved this movie. It gave me a new appreciation for birds. The performances are great. The movie was funny, touching and really entertaining throughout the whole movie. This was way better than I thought it would be, it was a great movie.

Grade: A-
SC007
SC007

Super Reviewer

August 10, 2012
The film is a big disappointment. The film has a great trailer. With a cast lead by Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson leading a great ensemble I was expecting the film to be better. Instead, it is a bit slow and less on comedy.
That Darn Alyssa
That Darn Alyssa

Super Reviewer

June 10, 2012
The Big Year is every bird lovers dream. Participants have one year beginning January 1st and ending December 31st to spot and identify as many birds as they can in the United States. Brad's life dream is to win a Big Year. Stu is in the middle of a three quarter life crisis because he's been putting off his Big Year, and Kenny has already won a big year and won't let anyone get in the way of his all time record. Each man competes to win a Big Year and in doing so finds themselves.

The Big Year is quite a a silly movie and definitely not worth most peoples time to watch. I only watched it because the movie ended up on my Netflix queue some how and I received it in the mail. Of course like every move it has its good an bad. The bad: the story line. The good: It's life lessons and morals to be learned by the end. However, if you are a fan of bird watching and enjoy spectacular scenery than this movie might be for you.
Dannielle A

Super Reviewer

March 5, 2012
This was actually quite a cute movie. I really liked looking at all the birds.
PantaOz
PantaOz

Super Reviewer

February 22, 2012
I love birds and don't mind Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson - it was logical for me to watch this comedy directed by David Frankel and written by Howard Franklin. A group of bird enthusiasts set on a big year, a quest to outdo each other by finding the most species of birds in North America and their competition becomes an allegory for the challenges faced in their lives...

This film definitely has heart but lacks focus, it has sweetness but lacks energy - and if you want to attract "birders" as audience you'll need those desperately! Missed opportunity with a screenplay which needed more work!
Ryan M
Ryan M

Super Reviewer

February 8, 2012
*** out of ****

If you can get past the simplicity and the predictability of the screenplay; "The Big Year" could very well be a fun and entertaining, if not slightly forgettable diversion from the highs and lows of modern cinema. It never quite makes a contribution to either of the two. It exists on the backburner; I imagine it will be forgotten by the ones who admire it as well as the ones who don't. Hell, I liked it; and I can see myself forgetting all about it in a few years. But for now, I'm going to try and embrace the times and the moment; and I'll go ahead and say that I had a really good time watching this feel-good flick about the hobby known to those associated as "birding"; and those who aren't as bird watching, although you shouldn't use the said term lightly around the feathered-friend faithful.

Unless you partake in the hobby - or have before - you probably won't know what a "big year" is when you go in. Here, I'll save you some of your precious time: a big year is when birders around the world travel worldwide to locate and photograph as many birds as they possibly can. There are three central characters - and a whole lot of ones put on the side - and one of them is indeed the current champion for most birds seen and captured on-camera. He is a man by the name of Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson). He doesn't think he'll ever be rivaled by a fellow birder, but this year is bound to be different.

I say this because the narrator of the story is not Bostick; but rather a low-life whose name is Brad (Jack Black). He's been observing Bostick's position in the world of non-professional birding (is there a profession to be found in this area of expertise?); and he thinks that if he can put the right amount of money and effort into focus, he can make his dream of beating this man's record come true. Things work out for the best for our buddy Brad - in spite of some harsh disapproval from his father (Brian Dennehy) - and soon, he's on his way.

Not too far into his travels, Brad meets a friendly businessman named Stu (Steve Martin); who is also a birder, so to speak. He's also secretly doing his very own big year; and yes, you must not reveal such a thing to those within your area of knowledge. These people treat birding/bird-watching like its Fight Club. They mean serious business.

A lot of the film involves the bond shared between Brad and Stu. The two never seem to be competing against one-another; they are both friendly and respectable people, unlike the arrogant fool (Bostick) who joins them. It's to be expected that there shall be bumps in the road of this rather spectacular relationship; but hey, it's routine storytelling done right, and that's good enough for me. "The Big Year" is not atypical, and it does not try to be, but it's a nicely-told story about people who like doing what they do, even if it's a lot of work for absolutely no pay.

The film was met with unfair criticism due to the uninspired, misguided marketing; which made it out to be a comedy, given the A-list cast, although it plays out even better as a character-driven drama packaged with people that you both revile and admire. You should know this going in; because that way, you won't be disappointed when the laughs aren't plentiful. There are some mild giggles, and they all go down quite easily, but I feel that, among other things, this is a movie about male bonding; and of course, birds.

I like "The Big Year" because it's a sweet, honest, and touching film; with the unexpected addition of beautiful bird photography. Its makers obviously have a love for nature, as they often do their best to capture it as its most majestic. There could have been more scenes of extensive bird photography, but heck, what we get is more than enough. I say that if you want to see this movie, you should take it as it wants to be taken; not as comic brilliance, but as dramatic commentary on men and their strange obsessions. The three leading men all bring a surprising sense of realism and honesty to their roles; and a lot of the time, we're convinced that these people really love birding. There's truly nothing nicer than watching people be happy and intelligent; so "The Big Year" is pleasant and easy-going enough to be, well, kind of likable.
Jeff B.
Jeff B.

Super Reviewer

October 25, 2011
A birdbrain of a laugh-getter with a cast that flies like birds-of-a-feather, this Year-ling isn't Big on laughs but it's still likeable and darn entertaining. The movie's synopsis (competitive birding ranks with basket-weaving and knitting on the cinematic excitement factor) is so mundanely kooky enough that, at first glance, it reads like a Christopher Guest mockumentary a la Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. It works so pleasingly well as a family-friendly narrative comedy, however, that it kinda sorta comes as a delightful surprise in a Cineplex teeming with boxing robots and high-kicking teens.

In this PG-rated comedy, three competitive bird watchers (Martin, Black, Owen Wilson) battle it out to spot the most rare species of birds in one fowl swoop. The cast also includes Brian Dennehy, Anjelica Huston, Rashida Jones, Rosamund Pike, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Anderson, Joel McHale, and Kevin Pollak.

Working from a decent if watered-down script by Howard Franklin (adapting from Bob Obmascik's book), David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) does a fine job of reining in two of film's most insufferably impossible acting sects, animals and kids-at-heart. The always wonderfully droll Steve Martin leads a winning cast that includes Black (dialing it down to great effect) and Wilson (who, after Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, has proven that he's one of the best actors working in comedies today). In an age where blue humor and gratuitous skin dominate a lot of new releases, The Big Year works (when it does work) because it's got a warm and fuzzy PG rating.

Bottom line: Good tweets.
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