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The Big Year (2011)

PG | | Comedy | 14 October 2011 (USA)
1:54 | Trailer

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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 Carell and Dustin Hoffman were both attached to star at one point. See more »


The last flights to Attu Alaska were in 2000. Currently the only way to get to Attu for bird watching is through Zugunruhe Tours which charter a 72 foot boat to Attu for 15 days. There was one trip to Attu in 2010, which was the first birding trip to Attu in 10 years. There are 2 trips scheduled for 2012. 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 »


References Field of Dreams (1989) See more »


Surfin' Bird
Written by Al Frazier (as Albert Frazier), John Harris, Turner Wilson Jr. and Carl White
Performed by The Trashmen
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

They had me at Nutting flycatcher...
31 October 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I confess that I cannot represent the following as an entirely objective, nor representative assessment of the quality of "The Big Year". How often does one of the early scenes in a film almost identically replicate an incident in the viewer's life? My introduction to the peculiar world of birding was in the late 1990s at Patagonia State Park in Southern Arizona. We had unsuspectingly selected a camping location that was noted for hosting an enormous variety of birds, and were awakened one morning by a small army of odd looking characters hell-bent on confirming the first reported sighting of the Nutting flycatcher in the United States in several decades. Out of curiosity we joined the chase, and the rest is family history, eerily duplicated by the makers of this film. What followed were many years of exercise, pleasure and reward for one of life's most interesting avocations.

So... how could I not enjoy this fine effort at mixing the allure of this strange "sport" with a thoughtful exploration of human motivation and conflicted choices. I can understand why the faithful fans of Black, 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 was encouraged to see the restraint and depth that they could bring to these characters which provided the necessary credibility for this otherwise improbable tale. The film maintains a near perfect balance of humor, drama, and suspense in a well paced, engaging and uplifting plot. The spectacular photography of an abundance of aesthetically appealing locations is an added bonus.

I count it a big plus when I can walk out of the movie with that "feel good" elation that comes from a pleasant and interesting evening's entertainment. My heart said give it an eight or nine, but my never-ending quest for realistic objectivity resulted in the understated seven. Unless you are of the set that requires demolition derbies and frat humor for your entertainment, go see it. You'll have a good time.

41 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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