The Big Year (2011) Poster

The Big Year (2011)

  • Rate: 6.0/10 total 8,664 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Date: 14 October 2011 (USA)
  • Runtime: USA:100 min
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The Big Year (2011)


The Big Year 2011tt1053810.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: The Big Year (2011)
  • Rate: 6.0/10 total 8,664 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Date: 14 October 2011 (USA)
  • Runtime: USA:100 min
  • Filming Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • Budget: $41,000,000(estimated)
  • Gross: $7,204,138(USA)(18 December 2011)
  • Director: David Frankel
  • Stars: Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin
  • Original Music By: Theodore Shapiro   
  • Sound Mix: Dolby
  • Plot Keyword: Competition | Year In Title | Birdwatching | Fertilization | Mother Son Relationship

Writing Credits By:

  • Mark Obmascik (inspired by the book)
  • Howard Franklin (screenplay)

Known Trivia

  • Steve Carell and Dustin Hoffman were both attached to star at one point.

Goofs: Factual errors: At one point, in Alaska, there is a short but definite shot of penguins. Most penguins are native to Antarctica, although some are found as far north as the Galapagos Islands. In this scene, however, the character is speaking of a bird that lives among penguins. The conversation takes place in Alaska but it is not implied that penguins are there. It is a confusing scene but not a goof.

Plot: Two bird enthusiasts try to defeat the cocky, cutthroat world record holder in a year-long bird-spotting competition. Full summary »  »

Story: 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?Written by <>  


Synopsis: Brad Harris (Jack Black) wants to become the greatest birder by winning the Big Year, a birding contest (not a photography contest). Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is the current Big Year record holder, and other challengers abound, including Stu Preissler (Steve Martin), a retiring executive. Stu’s family supports him, but Brad’s father (Brian Dennehy) is not keen.

The contestants travel all over North America (not the world), trying to see (or hear) the most birds. Bostick connives to throw others off, and Stu and Brad form an alliance. Stu’s ex-coworkers try to get him back for a big deal, and Bostick’s wife (Rosamund Pike) redecorates their house. They all hear of a storm, which will blow birds inland, and head to Houston. No one wants to admit they’re chasing a Big Year, but they eventually find out about each other.

Brad and Stu continue with their personal lives, but Kenny devotes all his time to birding. Brad’s father begins to understand his passion. Stu and Brad begin to use Stu’s resources to find birds, and Brad’s father finds time to help his son.

Even though Kenny wins the Big Year, Stu and Brad realize they’ve won more – friendship.


FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Stuart Cornfeld known as producer
  • Carol Fenelon known as executive producer
  • Curtis Hanson known as producer
  • Jeffrey Harlacker known as associate producer
  • Jeremy Kramer known as executive producer
  • Karen Rosenfelt known as producer
  • Ben Stiller known as executive producer
  • Brad Van Arragon known as co-producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Jack Black known as Brad Harris
  • Zahf Paroo known as Prasad
  • John Cleese known as Historical Montage Narrator
  • Owen Wilson known as Kenny Bostick
  • Rosamund Pike known as Jessica
  • Steve Martin known as Stu Preissler
  • Kevin Pollak known as Jim Gittelson
  • Joel McHale known as Barry Loomis
  • JoBeth Williams known as Edith Preissler
  • Paul Campbell known as Tony
  • Cindy Busby known as Susie
  • Greg Kean known as Computer Birder
  • Eva Allan known as Birder's Daughter
  • Bill Dow known as Dr. Paul Elkin
  • Barry Shabaka Henley known as Dr. Neil Kramer
  • Dianne Wiest known as Brenda Harris
  • Brian Dennehy known as Raymond Harris
  • Calum Worthy known as Colin Debs
  • Anthony Anderson known as Bill Clemont
  • June Squibb known as Old Lady
  • Craig Bockhorn known as Lawyer
  • Jim Parsons known as Crane
  • Anjelica Huston known as Annie Auklet
  • Rashida Jones known as Ellie
  • Tim Blake Nelson known as Fuchs
  • Joey Aresco known as Frank Falucci
  • Ryan Caltagirone known as Frank Jr.
  • Al Roker known as New York Weatherman
  • Christopher Mann known as Security Guard
  • Jan Bos known as Local Newsman (High Island)
  • Kate Gajdosik known as Local Newswoman (High Island)
  • William Samples known as British Tourist
  • Scott Patey known as Birder (High Island)
  • Marci T. House known as Troop Leader
  • Michael Bean known as Waiter
  • Steven Weber known as Rick McIntire (as Steven R. Weber)
  • Christopher Redman known as Scott (as Chris Redman)
  • Devon Weigel known as Karen
  • Andrew Wilson known as Mike Shin
  • Gabrielle Rose known as Mary Swit
  • Doreen Ramus known as CB Announcer
  • Terence Kelly known as Pete Shackelford
  • Steve Darling known as Anchorage Weatherman.
  • Jon Frankel known as Anchorage Anchorman
  • David Lewis known as Lanky Birder
  • Kath Dugray known as Motel Manager
  • Jesse Moss known as Darren
  • Morgan Brayton known as Ferry Ticket Seller
  • Corbin Bernsen known as Gil Gordon
  • Sheelah Megill known as Nurse
  • Nate Torrence known as Ted Simkin
  • Veena Sood known as Nurse Katie
  • Dee Jay Jackson known as Parking Attendant (as DeeJay Jackson)
  • Calvin Lee known as Chinese Waiter
  • Tshering Garie known as Chinese Waitress
  • Jackson Handy known as Attu Birder (uncredited)
  • Eric Keenleyside known as Cochrane (uncredited)
  • Markley Rizzi known as Lawyer (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Sarah Bergeest known as makeup artist
  • Joseph A. Campayno known as makeup artist: Mr. Martin
  • Janella Churchill known as assistant makeup artist
  • Angel De Angelis known as hair stylist
  • Leah Ehman known as first assistant makeup artist
  • Geraldine Jones known as hair stylist: Mr. Wilson (as Gerry Jones)
  • Nicki Ledermann known as key makeup artist
  • Lisa Love known as department head makeup
  • Lisa Love known as makeup artist: Mr. Black
  • Andrea Simpson known as first assistant hair stylist
  • Debra Wiebe known as department head hair
  • Debra Wiebe known as hair stylist: Mr. Black
  • Patty York known as makeup artist: Mr. Wilson

Art Department:

  • Erkin Aycen known as lead scenic artist (as Erkin Aycan)
  • Brent Bennett known as set decoration buyer
  • Laurel Bergman known as assistant art director
  • Kurt Bruun known as props buyer
  • Scott Calderwood known as assistant set decorator
  • John Chaschowy known as lead greens
  • David Clarke known as assistant art director
  • Joshua Cockerham known as on-set carpenter
  • Rob Dampier known as construction foreman
  • Darian Deering known as dresser
  • Dylan Dowd known as head greensperson
  • David Dowling known as property master
  • Jay Erickson known as buyer
  • Les Ford known as playback animator
  • Sonia Gemmiti known as art department assistant
  • Chris Gilmour known as lead dresser
  • Sean Goojha known as art department coordinator
  • Wes Hamby known as assistant property master (as Wesley Hamby)
  • Leesa Hanna known as set decoration coordinator (as Leesa Lee Hanna)
  • Adrian Hrytzak known as graphic designer
  • Aaron Jordan known as head sculptor
  • Jeff Jordan known as lead metal fabricator (as Geoff Jordan)
  • Jesse Joslin known as construction coordinator
  • Jacques Larrue known as dresser
  • Cody Larson known as on-set dresser
  • Sean Lavoie known as paint coordinator
  • Vern Lavoie known as paint foreman (as Vernon Lavoie)
  • Spencer Louttit known as assistant property master
  • Mike Marsten known as dresser (as Mike Marston)
  • Keith McCulloch known as construction foreman
  • Guy Miller known as dresser
  • Darren Moore known as best boy greens
  • D. Martin Myatt known as props assistant
  • Fanny Pereire known as art consultant
  • David Pirrie known as on-set painter
  • Barry Rennie known as lead carpenter
  • Andrew Rowland known as lead location carpenter
  • Sarah M. Smith known as greens person
  • Danielle Taylor known as construction first aid
  • Vincent Thomas known as concept artist
  • Adrien Van Viersen known as storyboard artist
  • Lori West known as graphic designer




Production Companies:

  • Fox 2000 Pictures (presents)
  • Red Hour Films
  • Deuce Three Productions (as Deuce Three)
  • Sunswept Entertainment
  • Dune Entertainment (made in association with)
  • Ingenious Media (made in association with)

Other Companies:

  • Seasons Fine Foods  catering (as Season's Fine Food)
  • Sim Video West Ltd.  playback
  • PS Production Services  provided by: Chapman Camera Dollies (as PS Production Services, Ltd. Canada)
  • Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment  camera dollies
  • De Lane Lea  ADR recording
  • Dolby Laboratories  sound mix
  • Gallagher Entertainment  insurance
  • Intelligent Media  international monitoring agency
  • POP Sound  ADR recording
  • Pictorvision  Eclipse aerial camera system
  • River Road Creative  main titles and special effects
  • Scarlet Letters  end title cards
  • Sixteen19  post production services
  • Trevanna Post  post-production accounting


  • 20th Century Fox (2011) (Canada) (theatrical)
  • Forum Cinemas (2011) (Lithuania) (theatrical)
  • Fox 2000 Pictures (2011) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (2011) (USA) (theatrical)



Other Stuff

Special Effects:

  • Factory VFX
  • Moving Picture Company (MPC)

Visual Effects by:

  • Nidhi Agarwal known as matchmove artist: MPC
  • Rohit Agarwal known as roto animation
  • Lee Alexander known as matchmove lead: MPC
  • K.H. Aslam known as senior matchmove artist: MPC Bangalore
  • Romain Bayle known as matte painting supervisor
  • Kent Blocher known as visual effects assistant editor
  • Landon Bootsma known as digital compositor: MPC
  • Jeffrey Burt known as lead layout artist
  • Korey J. Cauchon known as visual effects producer: Prime Focus
  • Eric D. Christensen known as visual effects supervisor: Factory VFX
  • Ryan B. Clarke known as digital compositor: MPC
  • Rob Crone known as visual effects assistant coordinator (as Robert Crone)
  • Adam Davis known as head of crowd sim
  • Stanley A. Dellimore known as head of layout: MPC
  • Pete Dionne known as CG supervisor: The Moving Picture Company
  • Ryan Duffy known as scanning: deluxe New York
  • Kishan E. Chandran known as matchmove artist: The Moving Picture Company
  • Scott Eade known as senior layout artist: MPC
  • Tarek Elaydi known as lighting technical director
  • Boominathan Frances known as matchmove artist
  • Jigesh Gajjar known as matchmove supervisor: The Moving Picture Company
  • Sigurjón F. Gardarsson known as digital compositor
  • Oded Granot known as digital compositor: Prime Focus
  • Bryan Jones known as lead compositor
  • Dinesh K. Bishnoi known as matchmove artist: The Moving Picture Company
  • Patrick Kavanaugh known as visual effects supervisor: Prime Focus
  • Christian Kontis known as digital restoration artist
  • Sujay Kumar G. known as matchmove artist: The Moving Picture Company
  • Wendy Lanning known as visual effects producer: Prime Focus Visual Effects
  • Shandy Lashley known as visual effects coordinator
  • Michelle Ledesma known as visual effects coordinator
  • Jooyong Lee known as digital compositor: Prime Focus
  • Ryan Sunghun Lim known as modeler
  • Marika D. Litz known as digital restoration artist
  • Angela Magrath known as lead character technical director
  • Matt Mayer known as visual effects assistant editor
  • Claire McLachlan known as digital compositor: Prime Focus
  • James McPhail known as effects technical director: MPC
  • Juan Melgoza known as digital artist
  • Buhas Mohammedunny P. known as matchmove artist: The Moving Picture Company
  • Mo Mohamoud known as roto/prep artist
  • Travis Moore known as digital artist
  • Devan Mussato known as character td: MPC
  • Leona Naidoo known as vfx editor
  • Erik Nordby known as visual effects supervisor: MPC
  • Gurpreet Singh Pannu known as matchmove artist: MPC
  • Stephen Paschke known as digital compositor
  • Rodgers Paul known as matte painter
  • Diego Piccinato known as prep lead: MPC
  • Andrew Poole known as visual effects production manager
  • Michael Ranalletta known as digital compositor: MPC
  • Colin Riley known as compositor
  • Liz Roberts known as visual effects producer: MPC
  • Eric J. Robertson known as visual effects producer
  • Eric J. Robertson known as visual effects supervisor
  • Chris Rogoski known as rotoscope artist: Prime Focus
  • Philip Rosado known as cg modeler
  • David Rose known as digital compositor: prime focus
  • Dorian Roza known as digital compositor: Prime Focus
  • Chris Ryan known as senior technical director
  • Mohan Sangeeth known as production coordinator: MPC
  • Daryl Sawchuk known as animation supervisor: The Moving Picture Company
  • Bradey Strong known as lighting td: MPC
  • Patrick Tasse known as animator
  • Anna Terekhova known as digital compositor
  • Joseph Thomas M. known as matchmove artist: The Moving Picture Company
  • Vincent Thomas known as senior digital matte painter
  • Joel Thompson known as visual effects editor
  • Rich Thorne known as visual effects consultant
  • Peter Toufidis known as senior matte painter: MPC
  • Micole Toyloy known as digital artist: Factory VFX
  • Donald Tse known as digital compositor
  • Vasantharajan.g.d known as matchmove artist
  • Darren Wall known as digital compositor
  • Derek Wolfe known as effects technical director
  • Christal Wolgamott known as visual effects producer: Factory VFX
  • Chris Wood known as digital compositor: MPC
  • Teh-wei Yeh known as lighting technical director: MPC
  • Eric Zhang known as texture artist: MPC

Release Date:

  • Canada 14 October 2011
  • USA 14 October 2011
  • Ireland 2 December 2011
  • UK 2 December 2011
  • Malta 18 January 2012
  • Australia 1 March 2012
  • Portugal 8 March 2012
  • Lithuania 16 March 2012
  • Romania 23 March 2012
  • Germany 14 June 2012
  • France 19 September 2012

MPAA: Rated PG for language and some sensuality



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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Posted on March 29, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , .


  1. CaptMTS from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 2:45 pm

    In the Big Year, bird-watching ("birding" for those serious about theactivity) takes a beautiful backdrop to the story of three men indifferent stages of life that are all struggling with priorities andwhat is important in life. Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilsonall do a great job as lead actors and come across as real bird lovers.

    The settings are incredible – taking viewers from Attu Island in theAleutians to Brownsville, Texas, and everywhere in between. The race tofind birds results in many humorous moments between the threecompetitors as they scour North America in search of rare birdsightings and compete to be the world's best birder.

    Steve Martin does a wonderful job as a man on the verge of retirement,who is struggling to let go of his career. His long-time dream to spenda year birding helps him understand what is important in life. Steve'scharacter develops a father-like relationship with Jack Black's aimlesscomputer programmer whose passion is birds. Steve's character providesfatherly guidance and support that helps Jack Black's character moveforward with his life and relationships.

    Owen Wilson is great as the obsessed world's greatest birder, who doeseverything that he can to stop his challengers – Steve Martin & JackBlack. The obsession and drive of Owen's character draws anger,jealousy, and respect from his competitors and other birders. Severalsupporting actors providing some funny moments with their hatred ofOwen.

    Overall, Big Year is a funny and heart-warming movie that will make youthink about your own priorities and dreams…and maybe grab somebinoculars and search out some birds.

  2. prashanta_guha from India
    29 Mar 2012, 2:45 pm

    I'm sorry, but I've to say that people's taste in movies is gettingworse by the year. They seem to give high ratings to mindless moviesand fail to appreciate the good ones.

    The Big Year is a beautiful drama-comedy picture, starring 4 of myfavorite comedians – Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson and JimParsons.

    It is a touching and heart warming story, which has it's comic pointsand showcases most valuable life lessons – family coming first, theprice people pay for being the greatest in any field, choosing betweenpriorities etc.

    It's a wonderful effort and it deserves a watch, and the a minimum 8star rating.

  3. casademitch from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 2:45 pm

    I enjoyed this film. Jack Black can actually act. Who knew? And SteveMartin hasn't done anything this appealing since "Shopgirl." It's gotsome funny moments, and at least two laugh-out-loud moments, but mostlyit's a movie with heart. And Black's character will tug at yours alittle. Beautifully shot and sharply edited. Lovely scenery andwonderful music. I hope this is still in theaters at Thanksgiving,because it would be the perfect family outing (after devouring theButterball species). The audience in my theater enjoyed it and someeven applauded at the end. Eight is an honest vote, though I wastempted to give it a nine.

  4. empken from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 2:45 pm

    Having read the book by Mark Obmascik and being a birder, I lookedforward to 20th Century Fox's film when it was announced over a yearago. I began to get concerned when I saw the trailer which didn't looklike book, didn't feature birds and wasn't all that funny. Thoseunfamiliar with the book or the movie's plot line, a "big year" refersto an informal competition in which birders try to see the most birdspecies they can within North America (North of Mexico) in one year.

    My concerns were put to rest within the first 5 minutes. I found "TheBig Year" humorous and thoughtful. The writing avoided the caricaturesoften associated with birding. I was in shock to see only one bird poopreference and surprisingly no toilet humor (which I would have expectedbased on the cast). Direction by David Frankel (Marley and Me, Devilwears Prada) was well-paced.

    The story centers upon 3 men each going through their own version of amid-life crisis and hitting the road in search of finding themselvesand birds. Owen Wilson plays the record holder for the "Big Year" whois in constant fear that someone is going to top his record. He mustdecide between his obsession and his wife. Steve Martin plays asuccessful but retiring businessman who decides to start doing all thethings he put on hold over the years. Jack Black, the poorest andyoungest of the three, sets out to make a mark and in turn, findshimself. All three actors showed they do have considerable range beyondtheir usual comedy shtick.

    While this story could have generically fit any obsession, the beauty,magic and mystery of birds clearly rings through. Highly Recommended.

  5. Hellmant from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 2:45 pm

    'THE BIG YEAR': Three Stars (Out of Five)

    Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson star in this bird watchingcomedy based on the book 'The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and FowlObsession' by Mark Obmascik. The three play birders (recreational birdwatchers) each trying to outdo each other in a 'big year' (acompetition in which birders compete to see who can spot the mostdifferent species of birds in a single year in a given area, in thiscase the U.S.). The film was directed by David Frankel (who's alsodirected such hit comedy films as 'THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA' and 'MARLEY &ME') and written by Howard Franklin. It's not as much of a laugh riotas you might expect coming from the combination of the three big timecomedy stars and it's surprisingly clean and lightweight (coming fromthe three big time comedy stars) but it is much better than the reviewsand box office might lead you to believe.

    The story is narrated by Brad Harris (Black) as he tells how hefollowed his dreams, despite lacking much money, and competed in a 'bigyear' to surprising results, in large part due to the other skilledbirders he met along the way: Kenny Bostick (Wilson) and Stu Preissler(Martin). Bostick was the defending champion and known for dishing outa lot of sneaky tricks for throwing off his competitors. Stu was aseasoned vet who becomes a good friend to Brad. The film follows theirheated competition as the three desperately try to outdo each otherwhile wrestling with the costs of doing so (mostly family problems athome) as well.

    It is interesting to see Black in a pretty clean nice guy role that'snot vulgar or buffoonish much at all. He's kind of the centralcharacter of the film and it's biggest protagonist. Martin kind ofplays the same type of role he usually does, in these family friendlyPG rated comedies, while Wilson plays slightly against type by beingthe film's main antagonist (he still comes off as the same type of wildcard he usually does just a little more self centered and rascally thannormal). The movie has some touching human drama and strong characterdevelopment as well. It's not quite as funny as you might hope (like Isaid), with the three lead actors attached, but it is humorous still(for the most part). The movie is pretty aptly made for it's type andthere's really not anything to complain about. I wouldn't say it's amust see comedy but it's not disappointing really in anyway either. Thereviews have been harsh and the dim box office results might also leadyou to believe the movie doesn't have anything to it but it'ssurprisingly decent given that information. I think the marketingultimately cursed it financially and critics will always be overlycritical and somewhat absurd in the way they review movies. It's a goodfilm, one I don't think most would regret seeing.

    Watch our review show 'MOVIE TALK' at:

  6. dollpenguin from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 2:45 pm

    The Big Year's low IMDb rating and box-office take had me worried thatthis film would be a "lame-duck." Turns out, this movie is really good.

    I am not a "birder" and know very little about birds other than what Ifind on a typical restaurant menu. The beginning of The Big Year mademe think I would learn a little bit more about birds, but waspleasantly surprised to learn that the film is not about birds at all;it is about people, how we relate to one another, and the things thatdrive us to do the things we do.

    The characters were more three-dimensional than those of any othermovie I have seen in a long time. I think a lot of people are thrownoff because we often don't know who to "root for" in this film. Thecharacters seem like real people, albeit participating in a sport mostof us do not understand and have never even thought about trying. Ihesitate to even call birding a sport because there are no spectators,trophies or prizes involved.

    Jack Black gives his finest performance ever imo, playing an averageworking-class guy named Brad who has a crazy obsession with birds. Hisdream of spending an entire "Big Year" spotting and photographing asmany birds as possible seems odd to us (and Brad's family), but we soonlearn that he is not alone with this obsession. All throughout thefilm, Brad offers glimpses of how birds and humans are more alike thandifferent. Jack Black nails the dialog which manages to be insightfulwhile avoiding any semblance of pretentiousness.

    Owen Wilson plays a married contractor named Kenny who takes more pridein his world record "Big Year" than anything else in the worldincluding his trying-to-conceive wife. He gives a believable, nuancedperformance as someone who will go to any length to protect his record,yet he is far from an average scumbag villain. He reminds me more of aprescription drug addict that I might feel sorry for. Kenny is soblinded by his addiction to "birding" that he cannot see the proverbialforest for the trees.

    Steve Martin gives a beautifully balanced performance as an agingbusiness owner who has always dreamed of trying for the Big Yearbirding record. Martin is known mostly as an on screen "wild and crazyguy" but in The Big Year, he remains subdued as he has in previousfilms such as Grand Canyon and Parenthood. If you liked him in thosemovies, you will like him in The Big Year as well.

    The Big Year was not meant to be a gut-busting comedy, but there areseveral humorous moments. This movie also manages to be quite touching,thought-provoking, sometimes uplifting, occasionally heart-rending, andbeautiful throughout. A lot like life except with better direction,better actors, great dialog, and fantastic cinematography.

  7. Steve from Sweden
    29 Mar 2012, 2:45 pm

    This is a much better movie than many reviews and the rating here wouldsuggest. I believe the main reason for the low average score is thatsome people expected a typical Jack Black and/or Steve Martin comedy.In fact, I'd go so far as to say the movie is in the wrong categoryhere on IMDb, it should be classified as Drama. So it's not the sillylaugh-fest you might be expecting.

    What this is, however, is a quiet but very atmospheric movie aboutfriendship, life and priorities. Without getting too deep it asksquestions about what's important and what isn't, about where to drawthe line between love and obsession, and about choosing a life thatmakes you happy over one that is expected of you. It's a feel-goodmovie with some funny moments and a lot of warm-hearted ones.

    If you are looking for yet another brain-dead Hollywood slapstickcomedy then this isn't it, but it is an excellent movie about threepeople who share a common interest but little else. It will leave youwith a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart.

  8. wrlj2 from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 2:45 pm

    I confess that I cannot represent the following as an entirelyobjective, nor representative assessment of the quality of "The BigYear". How often does one of the early scenes in a film almostidentically replicate an incident in the viewer's life? My introductionto the peculiar world of birding was in the late 1990s at PatagoniaState Park in Southern Arizona. We had unsuspectingly selected acamping location that was noted for hosting an enormous variety ofbirds, and were awakened one morning by a small army of odd lookingcharacters hell-bent on confirming the first reported sighting of theNutting flycatcher in the United States in several decades. Out ofcuriosity we joined the chase, and the rest is family history, eerilyduplicated by the makers of this film. What followed were many years ofexercise, pleasure and reward for one of life's most interestingavocations.

    So… how could I not enjoy this fine effort at mixing the allure ofthis strange "sport" with a thoughtful exploration of human motivationand conflicted choices. I can understand why the faithful fans ofBlack, Martin and Wilson might be disappointed with this production.But I, for one, have grown infinitely weary of too many superficial,sophomoric attempts at humor through these three capable actors. I wasencouraged to see the restraint and depth that they could bring tothese characters which provided the necessary credibility for thisotherwise improbable tale. The film maintains a near perfect balance ofhumor, drama, and suspense in a well paced, engaging and upliftingplot. The spectacular photography of an abundance of aestheticallyappealing locations is an added bonus.

    I count it a big plus when I can walk out of the movie with that "feelgood" elation that comes from a pleasant and interesting evening'sentertainment. My heart said give it an eight or nine, but mynever-ending quest for realistic objectivity resulted in theunderstated seven. Unless you are of the set that requires demolitionderbies and frat humor for your entertainment, go see it. You'll have agood time.

  9. Mr EGJ from South-Limburg, Netherlands
    29 Mar 2012, 2:45 pm

    With the lead cast consisting of Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and JackBlack, you would think The Big Year will be just another slapstickcomedy with little to no story and cheap laughs. You would be wrong.

    The Big Year is beautiful. Three men of different ages cross paths intheir interest for birding; spotting as many birds as one can in oneyear.

    But the film isn't really about "birding", it shows us life throughthree different views and the challenges life can bring and the choicesthat everyone has to make.

    The Big Year is not a movie you will sit through laughing out loud, butyou will be smiling for the better part of the 100 minutes.

    One of the most underrated movies of 2011, The Big Year suffered fromlack of promotion and a misleading poster and trailer.

    Do yourself a favor, and watch this, you will not regret it!

  10. Steve Pulaski from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 2:45 pm

    Birding is one of the strangest, yet most expensive sports I know of.Yes, I said sport. By definition, birding (or bird-watching as manypeople say) is a sport. It has competition, a scoring system, teams,and a simple goal. Those are some of the bare-basics requirements for asport. Birding has everyone of them.

    Why is it that Birding is mocked and not considered a sport? I supposeit's the idea. I mean, birdwatching doesn't sound like a sport. Itsounds like a hobby or an activity. Some people take the exercise veryseriously. It's not just a hobby to them, it's an ordeal. I think inorder to be a Birder, at least a successful one, you need to be retiredand/or wealthy (preferably both). You must travel across the globe insearch of all kinds of species, spending money on food, hotels, andtourist attractions. It's a tiresome event, and for all that trouble, Idon't see why it isn't a sport. It hurts the most valuable part of mostpeoples' bodies – their wallets.

    In my art class months back, I was engaged in a heated debate aboutBirding with four others. I brought up The Big Year, hoping to justmention a few things about it before moving on, and it lead to almost afifty minute discussion on why Birding is/isn't a sport. At the time, Isaid it wasn't a sport. I was close-minded to the idea of whatqualifies something as a sport. One person stated "competition." I knewright off the bat that was simply way too broad of a definition. Thatwould mean you and a friend racing to get a seat in class would be asport. Does that sound right? I finally came to my senses and nowconsider Birding a sport. In the sport, there is such thing as goingfor "a big year," which is where our film, The Big Year, comes in. Abig year is attempting to see the most birds in one single calendaryear. The record is currently held by Kenny Bostick (Wilson) at 732birds. He is a pompous, arrogant man who cares little about his wife,who desperately wants a child, and more about Birding.

    Stu Preissler (Martin) is a CEO of a company, and retires so he canpursue his dream of winning a big year. Preissler is energetic, cheery,and the typical character perfect for Steve Martin's persona. Lastly,we have Brad Harris (Black), an amateur Birder looking to win the bigyear as well. He takes a lengthy leave from his job to also follow hisheart.

    The film doesn't give us a regular plot. Just characters that occupyeclectic personalities that are thrown together to create chemistry.The result, like many other comedies, works quite well. If one paysclose attention, they will see the families of the three charactershave drastically different opinions of the idea of this sport. Yourresponse to Birding will usually depend on how receptive you are to theidea of venturing across the country to see as many birds as possiblein one year.

    Kenny's wife is a long suffering woman, tired of being married to a manwho is rarely ever there for her. When he is there, he is easilydistracted by the news of more birds, which more often than not resultsin his abrupt leave. Stu's wife is very supportive of his choice tofollow the birds. She wants him to win and always forces him to "spot arare one for her." Now, Brad's parents have the most common reaction;they find the sport to be ridiculous, cockamamie, and a waste of timeand money. At least the father does. The mother is quietly supportive.

    I don't know how much of a kid's movie this is, though. I wasentertained, but felt the film sort of pushes the envelope for a PGfilm. It has a bit more language than I'm used to seeing in a film withthe rating, and for that matter, I suggest viewers be about nine andup. The Big Year, also, proved to be a colossal miscalculation. Itsambition was to be a delightful, charming kid's film, marketed by thebig name actors. Unfortunately, the film's earnings were meager and theresponse lukewarm.

    The problem is in the market, obviously. Birders are few and farbetween. Kids won't likely be amused by the idea of birdwatching, andgrow tired and weary of the concept early on. The humor is light, butthe heart is there. The actors are playing the roles they were born toplay, with the exception of Owen Wilson who gives the villain role atry.

    The Big Year is charming and commendable in its efforts. It's aseriously eclectic film for the mainstream audiences, and a joyousexcursion for those anticipating the performances. The film providesinsight on an underrated sport, but doesn't force you to like it. Itallows you to walk out of it with your own thoughts, instead ofpersuading you a certain way. A rarity, especially for films that boastan unfamiliar concept.

    Starring: Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, and Jack Black. Directed by: DavidFrankel.

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