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

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Movie Info

Three men find that they have come to a turning point. Stu (Steve Martin) faces a late-life crisis, Kenny (Owen Wilson) is in the grip of a midlife crisis, and Brad (Jack Black) is wallowing in a no-life crisis. Determined to kick-start their stagnant lives, Stu, Kenny and Brad decide to enter a prestigious contest. During the course of one calendar year, the three friendly rivals criss-cross North America in a quest to count more species of birds than anyone else.

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Critic Reviews for The Big Year

All Critics (103) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (43) | Rotten (60)

  • The movie roams through its numerous picturesque locations with a pleasant enough grace, while Frankel adds just enough idiosyncratic musical and visual quirks to keep things interesting.

    January 27, 2012 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • 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 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • 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 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The result is an offence-free, mild entertainment in which everyone from cast to scriptwriter seems to be winging it.

    October 21, 2011 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • 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…

Audience Reviews for The Big Year

  • Mar 11, 2017
    Although loaded with talent, top heavy with it in fact, this effort is so lackluster as to very nearly offend you with the waste perpetrated before your eyes. How lackluster? Jack Black comes across as a nice guy! (Say what?!?) Yep. If the police asked you to identify this film out of a line-up you will not be able to do it because you won't remember what it looked like.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 24, 2013
    Wasted My Time ON This One. 1 star 4-22-13
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 07, 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.
    Josh M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 01, 2013
    They got three comedic actors, then made a feel-good movie. A few jokes wouldn't have gone a miss, but it's still charmingly likeable.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer

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