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The Big Year (2011)

PG  |   |  Comedy  |  14 October 2011 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 32,969 users   Metascore: 53/100
Reviews: 125 user | 109 critic | 29 from Metacritic.com

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



(screenplay), (book)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Historical Montage Narrator (voice)
Vicki's Fiancée
Greg Kean ...
Birder's Daughter (as Eva Allan)


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 continent (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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and some sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 October 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Grande Ano  »

Box Office


$41,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,251,884 (USA) (14 October 2011)


$7,204,138 (USA) (16 December 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Steve Martin wrote much of the music in his 2011 album,"Rare Bird Alert" (Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers) while on the set for this movie. See more »


Many of the autumn shots (October, November) are shown with all the trees and other vegetation in full summer foliage. See more »


Stu Preissler: [Sitting in a bar] Bostick saw snowcocks.
Brad Harris: I can't afford snowcocks.
Stu Preissler: Snowcocks are on me.
Brad Harris: I can't even afford this beer.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the end credits, photos of every bird found by the winner are shown. See more »


Features Wheel of Fortune (1983) See more »


This Could All Be Yours
Written by Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, Brian Rosenworcel and Joe Pisapia
Performed by Guster
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Much better the trailer indicates
18 October 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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

My concerns were put to rest within the first 5 minutes. I found "The Big Year" humorous and thoughtful. The writing avoided the caricatures often associated with birding. I was in shock to see only one bird poop reference and surprisingly no toilet humor (which I would have expected based on the cast). Direction by David Frankel (Marley and Me, Devil wears Prada) was well-paced.

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

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

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