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
When Jack Black tells his boss that he is done and ready to leave, his boss offers him double overtime. When Black enters the office the audience clearly see his boss looking at a spreadsheet on his computer monitor. A minute later he turns the monitor and it has a picture of his two kids on the monitor. Technically there is a cut away back to Black so the boss could have very, very quickly minimized the spreadsheet but there is no indication of that. See more »
During the end credits, photos of every bird found by the winner are shown. See more »
UK BluRay sports an Extended Cut of the film, adding a good six minutes of minor background information on the three main characters and special birds. It also replaces Jack Black's narration of the story with a new narration by John Cleese who also receives a credit in the opening title sequence. See more »
Lyrics by Frederick Oakeley (uncredited) and music by John Reading (uncredited)
[Incorrectly credited as Traditional]
Arranged by Virginia S. Davidson
Performed by New York Treble Singers
Courtesy of DD Fiddlin See more »
'THE BIG YEAR' has medium laughs.
'THE BIG YEAR': Three Stars (Out of Five)
Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson star in this bird watching comedy based on the book 'The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession' by Mark Obmascik. The three play birders (recreational bird watchers) each trying to outdo each other in a 'big year' (a competition in which birders compete to see who can spot the most different species of birds in a single year in a given area, in this case the U.S.). The film was directed by David Frankel (who's also directed 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 riot as you might expect coming from the combination of the three big time comedy stars and it's surprisingly clean and lightweight (coming from the three big time comedy stars) but it is much better than the reviews and box office might lead you to believe.
The story is narrated by Brad Harris (Black) as he tells how he followed his dreams, despite lacking much money, and competed in a 'big year' to surprising results, in large part due to the other skilled birders he met along the way: Kenny Bostick (Wilson) and Stu Preissler (Martin). Bostick was the defending champion and known for dishing out a lot of sneaky tricks for throwing off his competitors. Stu was a seasoned vet who becomes a good friend to Brad. The film follows their heated competition as the three desperately try to outdo each other while wrestling with the costs of doing so (mostly family problems at home) as well.
It is interesting to see Black in a pretty clean nice guy role that's not vulgar or buffoonish much at all. He's kind of the central character of the film and it's biggest protagonist. Martin kind of plays the same type of role he usually does, in these family friendly PG rated comedies, while Wilson plays slightly against type by being the film's main antagonist (he still comes off as the same type of wild card he usually does just a little more self centered and rascally than normal). The movie has some touching human drama and strong character development as well. It's not quite as funny as you might hope (like I said), 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 and there's really not anything to complain about. I wouldn't say it's a must see comedy but it's not disappointing really in anyway either. The reviews have been harsh and the dim box office results might also lead you to believe the movie doesn't have anything to it but it's surprisingly decent given that information. I think the marketing ultimately cursed it financially and critics will always be overly critical and somewhat absurd in the way they review movies. It's a good film, one I don't think most would regret seeing.
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