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The Big Year Review

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The Big Year

20th Century Fox

PG 100 min



OK. I hear this film is based on some actual events though in the disclaimer it’s noted that the facts may well be bogus. I also hear one of the main characters, Brad Harris (Jack Black) is a native of Ohio. Fair enough. Apparently in the bird watching community there’s a competition to see who can spot the most different kinds of birds in a year. There doesn’t seem to be a prize or a cash value but those involved take that title seriously.

Plus it’s a lot better than the old competition which consisted of seeing how many birds you could kill, so…..

This story revolves around three of those dedicated Birders, as they prefer to be called (at least it isn’t “birding Americans) as they go for the gold and try to find balance in their lives.

One might guess that THE BIG YEAR would be a wacky comedy given the cast that includes Steve Martin and Owen Wilson along with Black, but it’s not.

One might also expect a birdwatching parody along the lines of Second City cast’s BEST IN SHOW. Nope.

Maybe even a high intensity scramble to the finish in THE GREAT RACE vein. Wrong again.

What we have is an almost serious recounting of the year the three spend in pursuit of that goal. It really isn’t very funny, not very exciting and not all that interesting. On the other hand it’s never mean spirited nor rife with F bombs and fart and puke jokes, and that’s at least refreshing these days.

The secondary storylines include a high powered executive (Martin) who wants to retire from the rat race, Harris’ love life and relationship with his gruff father (Brian Dennehy) and last year’s champion (Wilson) who lets the competition eclipse his family life.

I really didn’t make an empathetic connection to any of the characters until it was almost over. At that point the happy ending compelled me to add to the grade a bit. It isn’t funny or suspenseful but I don’t suppose it was meant to be.

I was happy with the ending but it sure took a long time to get there.




Email westsidesteve@aol.com


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  • 2 weeks later...

You and I saw this together and as you know I liked it slightly better than you did. I would give it a B at least. It was essentially a sweet, slice of life story without being smarmy.

It was a competition story, with Owen Wilson seemingly the "bad guy" that you wanted to see get beat, but then they pointed out that his character actually had real integrity in what he was doing despite claims by some that he was prone to cheating, so you had to kind of cheer his dedication

In a sense, he is the one that ended up being the loser though, because he lost his wife over his dedication to his "hobby", whereas Jack Black got a girl, and Steve Martin achieved solace in his life from the experience.

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Right you are gipper.

And, as I say, the things that I did enjoy about this film were basically the same things you enjoyed.

I just found it to be a little bit weak, comparatively, from the beginning to that happy ending.

I suppose I could of just as easily gone with a B minus rather than a c plus but that's such a fine distinction ...


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