Taking a look at The Big Year, you kind of expect it to be one big pile of shit. Now, I’m not clever enough to turn the tables on that statement and say it was. It wasn’t. It was a pretty decent pile of shit. Directed by David Frankel, who is responsible for such movies as Marley and Me and The Devil Wears Prada, you kind of see what kind of movie this will be. It’s definitely a PG family dramady, but that doesn’t always mean it has to suck!
The story’s narrator is Brad Harris (Jack Black). Brad works in some sort of office doing some sort of work. It must be very important being that he works for Anthony Anderson. Brad’s passion is bird-watching, or birding if you’re an asshole. He says that this upcoming year he will attempt to compete in The Big Year, which is a year round competition where people attempt to see as many birds, common and rare, from January 1st through December 31st. The current record holder is Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) with 732 birds. Bostick is a motivated birder who will do anything to see a bird. Meanwhile, we have Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) who is an executive for some company, these details aren’t important; just get to the fucking birds! Stu is retiring and his first order of business is to try out The Big Year. So once he retires, he sets out for his long year of watching birds. Exciting!
Each character has their own set of problems when competing. Bostick has home issues with his girlfriend/fiance/wife Jessica (they really don’t give details to any of this). Jessica (Rosamund Pike) wants to have a kid, but is reminded as Kenny sets out, what The Big Year does to his relationships. He’s been through a marriage or two that ended because of them. Brad has money problems and lack of support from his father who tells him it’s all a waste of time. Stu is the only one who’s problems aren’t really too hurting. After he retired, his associates keep bugging him to help seal a deal with the company he has passed on, his wife is totally understanding and supportive of doing the year, and his son is having a baby.
So the movie goes on to show the characters try and find as many birds as they can. Stu and Brad became friends through the journey, so they could team up and try and beat Bostick who’s only motivation is to beat his own record.
That’s about it. There is no real climax in the end that seemed fulfilling enough to make this shit fest a little more tolerable. It just kind of ends with some questions unanswered.
The main flaw of the movie is the whole concept of The Big Year. Its intention is to see who can find the most birds within a year, but there is no true measuring medium besides word of mouth. Taking pictures is optional, and apparently you can mark one down if you think you hear a bird. So any jackass can come in and mark a shit ton more birds than what they had, which was suspected of Bostick, but was never resolved in the end. It pisses me off that they leave a gaping wound like that. Not everyone is honest!
With that, the rest of the movie is pretty damn boring and lackluster. The style of this movie is by far the most evil kind of movie there is. It’s supposed to be a lighter drama, but it was advertised as a comedy. I came in thinking it was going to at least be a little funny, but I was disappointed. As a light drama, I guess it does its job, not to say I enjoyed it. I thought it was uninteresting and near pointless.
I know this may come off as funny, but the main cast can do better than this. Yes, I know its Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson we’re talking about, but they could do better. Sure, Jack Black hasn’t been entertaining since Tropic Thunder, Owen Wilson was really only good in Midnight in Paris, and Steve Martin is past his prime, but they can put out more than this neutral ball of slime.
The Big Year is just a neutral and boring light dramady. The climax of the movie is getting the latest Birding magazine issue and looking at the results. There’s no tension with it or anything to make you feel involved or interested in the movie. It’s just three people who love birding. If you’re into birding, go see it! This is the movie for you. If you aren’t, avoid this at all costs or you will probably pray for one of the birds to fly from the screen and peck your eyes out.
The Big Year – 5/10