the-big-yearBird watchers of the world unite as you now have a movie of your very own.

The Big Year

Bird watchers of the world unite as you now have a movie of your very own. Not a parody or a nonsensical look at the world of birding; but a fairly decent comedy with a lot of heart, several laughs, and a whole lot of birds. The Big Year may fly under the radar due to an ambiguous name and very little media attention. Though it has a decent cast and pretty solid writing it may be better suited for an afternoon renter. But that doesn’t take away from its strong points.

The film follows three bird lovers as they compete in a year long contest to see who can spot the most birds. Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is the reigning champ and guy to beat. His record has stood untouched for years and the only thing surpassing it is his ego and competitive nature. Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) is a retired business man who has dreamed of doing this all of his life. He now has the financial means and time to do it. The third guy, Brad Harris (Jack Black) has neither the time nor the money. But he does have the most bird knowledge and a passion that could end him up on top.

This film is certainly all about the birds. It is based on the book, The Big Year, by Mark Obmascik; an environmentalist and journalist with the Denver Post. His book chronicles the 1998 event and its three top contenders.  Not sure that the screenplay stayed as accurate but it still had loads of entertainment and some underlying messages that were neither preachy nor heavy handed. Also, it isn’t an environmental story. It is simply about birds and the people who watch them. That was smart on the part of the movie makers.

Though all three actors are strong comedians in their own right, they played well together here. Wilson, Black, and Martin have different forms of delivery and all three have a likability and endearing quality. This allowed the film to be more than just a segment of one liners and slapstick moments. It has a terrific message about friendship, personal endeavors, and discovering what is truly important in life. I enjoyed seeing these different generations of comics on the screen together. It worked. Granted at times the script was not the beefiest they have had to work with but they were able to make it their own. Some may argue that the actors didn’t stray far from their normal comfort zones but that was fine for a film such as this.

The Big Year is rated PG for language and some sensuality. In all honesty it could have omitted a handful of expletives and been squeaky clean. There are a few unnecessary outbursts but you can count them on one hand. The sensuality lasted about 30 seconds between Wilson’s character and his wife (Rosamund Pike).The moment is certainly more about humor than sensuality. I enjoyed this film but not sure I would recommend spending a lot of money to see it. If you are into birding then by all means this should be on you radar. For the average movie goer it is certainly entertaining but nothing that will blow you over. If you are looking for something different and are fans of these three actors, then go for it. I give it a solid 3 out of 5. Again, it is a perfect afternoon on the couch view more than a night at the Cineplex.

Matt Mungle

Review copyright 2011 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.