6.2/10
38,367
137 user 105 critic

The Big Year (2011)

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

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

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Writers:

(screenplay), (book)
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Narrator (voice)
... Brad Harris
... Prasad
... Vicki
... Vicki's Fiancée
... Kenny Bostick
... Jessica
... Stu Preissler
... Jim Gittelson
... Barry Loomis
... Edith
... Tony
... Susie
Greg Kean ... Computer Birder
... Birder's Daughter (as Eva Allan)
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 October 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran año  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$41,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,251,884, 16 October 2011, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$7,204,138, 18 December 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jim Parsons plays an avid bird blogger in this film. His character on The Big Bang Theory though ironically has a serious phobia of birds. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

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 »

Connections

References Field of Dreams (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Wheel of Fortune Underscore
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television, Inc.
Under license from Sony Pictures Music Group
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Big Year Soars Above Expectations
16 February 2012 | by See all my reviews

The Big Year's low IMDb rating and box-office take had me worried that this film would be a "lame-duck." Turns out, this movie is really good.

I am not a "birder" and know very little about birds other than what I find on a typical restaurant menu. The beginning of The Big Year made me think I would learn a little bit more about birds, but was pleasantly surprised to learn that the film is not about birds at all; it is about people, how we relate to one another, and the things that drive us to do the things we do.

The characters were more three-dimensional than those of any other movie I have seen in a long time. I think a lot of people are thrown off because we often don't know who to "root for" in this film. The characters seem like real people, albeit participating in a sport most of us do not understand and have never even thought about trying. I hesitate to even call birding a sport because there are no spectators, trophies or prizes involved.

Jack Black gives his finest performance ever imo, playing an average working-class guy named Brad who has a crazy obsession with birds. His dream of spending an entire "Big Year" spotting and photographing as many birds as possible seems odd to us (and Brad's family), but we soon learn that he is not alone with this obsession. All throughout the film, Brad offers glimpses of how birds and humans are more alike than different. Jack Black nails the dialog which manages to be insightful while avoiding any semblance of pretentiousness.

Owen Wilson plays a married contractor named Kenny who takes more pride in his world record "Big Year" than anything else in the world including his trying-to-conceive wife. He gives a believable, nuanced performance as someone who will go to any length to protect his record, yet he is far from an average scumbag villain. He reminds me more of a prescription drug addict that I might feel sorry for. Kenny is so blinded by his addiction to "birding" that he cannot see the proverbial forest for the trees.

Steve Martin gives a beautifully balanced performance as an aging business owner who has always dreamed of trying for the Big Year birding record. Martin is known mostly as an on screen "wild and crazy guy" but in The Big Year, he remains subdued as he has in previous films such as Grand Canyon and Parenthood. If you liked him in those movies, you will like him in The Big Year as well.

The Big Year was not meant to be a gut-busting comedy, but there are several humorous moments. This movie also manages to be quite touching, thought-provoking, sometimes uplifting, occasionally heart-rending, and beautiful throughout. A lot like life except with better direction, better actors, great dialog, and fantastic cinematography.


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