on December 27, 2011
First of all, I enjoyed the other two reviews, they've got it right on. My wife and I saw this on the big screen and loved it. The matinee we attended only had about 2 other couples in it, which was terribly disappointing. We enjoyed this film and the DVD is already purchased, awaiting arrival on release.
It is refreshing to go to a movie and not have your ears assaulted by too loud music or special effects. This film doesn't need either, it's a good story on it's own. I think anyone that gives it a viewing will say it was worth it.
on January 8, 2012
I love birds, and thanks to my mom, my family has no less than a half dozen pairs of binoculars and bird books; we subscribe to Birds &Blooms, Wild Bird, etc. I saw a grand total of two previews for this movie, and got the book from the library after the first. It was a great book. The movie was better: a few details changed for a perfect ending, almost as many shots of the birds as the cast, who were wonderful in this film. My children enjoyed it, and I can hardly wait for my husband to see it. Had it stayed in theaters long enough, I would have gone to see it on a weekly basis. It is sad that there was so little buzz about this movie, because it was absolutely perfect in every way! The whole family can watch together, unlike so many movies released these days, and it is the perfect encouragement for backyard birders.
on March 18, 2012
A friend of mine rented this movie, and, as soon as the credits were done rolling, I purchased my own copy. It is simply a delight! One of the best movies I've seen this year. If you enjoy movies about personal growth and/or that have any of the following: birding, nature, traveling, laughter, competitions, or if you just want to be entertained then give this a chance. I won't go more into detail here about it as plenty of other reviewers have done that already, just watch it!
I do want to highly recommend the bluray 2-disc set as it includes the extended version narrated slightly differently by John Cleese (on the bluray disc in the extras section), which is as enjoyable if not moreso than the theatrical version narrated by Jack Black. The extended version also has a gag reel and some other fun behind-the-scenes extras about the locations to which the production crew and cast traveled, and there is one more very small character's story woven in to the extended version of the movie...that of a ruby-throated hummingbird. The ruby's story is laced throughout the movie, and I think it adds a little extra bit of birding fun and fullness to the overall feel of the film. It's just really sweet.
Overall, see this movie, theatrical or extended version - both are great!
LOVED IT! LAUGHED! Admittedly I feed backyard birds year-round. That does not deter the facts that this is a beautifully documented birding film with enough outdoor vistas to fill anyone's nest. Great music too, even from a couple of those old Beetles guys. The story ("true story, only the facts were changed") is birds, and how many can one count in a year, i.e. A Big Year. It turns into an avid confrontational race between Brad (Jack Black) a nuclear power plant techie, Kenny (Owen Wilson) reining champ, & Stu (Steve Martin) corporate head who's trying to retire from success. Brad needs financial help from parents (Dianne Wiest & Brian Dennehy) since this quest is ultra expensive. Brad also, along the trail, gets the hots for peacock gorgeous Ellie (Rashida Jones). So did I.
Other family matters become sub-plots and drama in this comic race for the feather count. Kenny's wife Jessica (Rosamund Pike) makes any guy look the fool with her beautiful display as the beautiful birdhouse mate. Kenny dumbly leaves her home alone. Kenny tells her he's the "Mozart" of birders. Stu gets a bit more moral support from wife Edith (Jo Beth Williams) and he does have a consciousness about business and family and occasionally falls from the hunt. There are some slapstick adventures in the rugged areas of North America due to the gung-ho style of the trio on their "Big Year" quests. Also enjoy the in-your-face bird tour boat captain, Annie Auklet (Angelica Huston) in a rare performance of a different specie. Plenty of other stars too. Not to mention hundreds of beautiful birds.
This is a FOWL film, but not fouled with lots of bad language, nudity, or other lower intellect modes often used to get comedy to work. Expect humor in wholesomeness, and the great outdoors. John Audubon would have loved to serve as an extra in this film. It is society endorsed. Makes one want to eat sunflower seeds with a grin.
There is some ending philosophy to the story. What is a win? Win at what cost? Even though 2 men lost, they seem to feel they were the ultimate winners. Biggest winner of The Big Year is birding fans. Raise those binoculars high, like a trophy.
At first I considered 4 ½ stars, because the last 2 films I theater viewed was "The Help" and "Courageous", both being 5 ½. The Big Year is not as deep in theme as those two, but just as entertaining, thus my 5 stars. Enjoy with a ticket or DVD. My plan is to do both.
on June 2, 2012
I don't ever remember seeing this movie advertised, but I'm glad that I stumbled onto it while browsing Amazon's movie selections.
Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black pulled this one off.
I came across this while browsing movies, read the description and would have probably gone right past it after reading that it's about bird watchers. Don't get me wrong - I love birds, but bird watchers? Anyway, I noticed that it had a pretty good cast of actors that I like. So, I decided to watch the trailer - thus the hook.
I like comedies, and I like to watch them with my girlfriend. I convinced her to watch the trailer. She being a big animal lover, she was easy to convince.
We both loved it.
It's about three lives, three bird watchers, and the special people in their lives. It was funny, and it was thought provoking.
If you got family, this is a good movie to share popcorn and laughs.
I was expecting this to be yet another cheesy male bonding/semi-romcom flick, but it was the best looking new rental on the shelf, and I like Black, don't mind Wilson and still give Steve a lifetime hall pass for Let's Get Small and his first half dozen movies. To my great surprise, Big Year has not only a large handful of funny moments, but also some truly intelligent, touching moments.
The fine script is what makes this one run, and the direction is playful enough to bring it to life. The takes on marriage and relationships are a little less predictable than usual, and sometimes even insightful. The ending is not the standard happy bs, and all in all Big Year succeeds as both a pleasant comedy, a decent almost-chick-flick, and a very nice introduction to birding. It won't do for birders what Best In Show did for dog folks...but that's probably a generous gesture!
I do love its love for birds and nature in general, and that spirit makes this film shine more than any of the performances (Black wins; his timing is equal to Martin's and their friendship is a highlight). The refusal of the movie to really laugh at birders, but rather show their love as based in a wonderful sense of awe at the wonders of our planet, is also a welcome treat. And I'm no birder! But I sure do admire their admiration of birds. Imagine life without birds...ouch.
The one real negative here is the exceptionally grainy and pixelated dvd. This is a TERRIBLE transfer. And you know what? I think this is a big scam the studios are starting to pull: they want to sell the blu-rays at a higher price so they make these look crappy by comparison. I've seen many many more bad recent dvd transfers in 2011-2012 than in any of the previous few years. I often think I'm imagining it...then I see a great recent dvd transfer and remember how perfect they CAN look, if the studio wants them to. And time and again the best dvd transfers are the ones without a blu-ray edition! You do the math. Hint: it's a plus for the studios and a minus for the consumers.
So: fine film, but avoid the dvd, and you know what? Don't even buy the BD, the studio doesn't deserve your money. Rent the BD at your local barn for a buck or two and there you go.
As you will note, I have given this movie five stars. I will add that these are an enthusiastic five stars. The primary reason I have rated this film so high is that I personally have added it to my "most favored" list. I have watched this thing about six times now and was as delighted during the last viewing as I was with the first.
Now I realize that not everyone is going to be as enthusiastic about this film as I am. As a matter of fact, some folks will absolutely hate the thing. That is okay though - hey there are thousands upon thousands of movies out there and no one can like them all and no one can hate them all. First let me start though by telling you (as I see it) what this movie is not:
Even though the three male stars in this movie; Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin are three of the funniest men in the film industry, this movie is not what you would call hilarious. The supporting cast which includes Time Blake Nelson, Dianne West, Brian Demehy, Angelica Huston, Rosamund Pike and Rashide Jones are a very talented group of actors yet there is not one hint in the movie of "acting envy." Not once have I detected a hint of professional jealously or competition. This is not a high action, high drama or intense movie by any stretch of the imagination. There are no killings, no zombies, vampires or werewolves, no brooding teen stars, nothing gets blown up and there are no hot sexy sex scenes from the beginning to the end.
This movie was loosely based on the book with the same title written by Mark Obmascik, 2004. This, by the way, is a wonderful book; one which I have read twice. The original book was based upon a real life situation, i.e. tracking three men (the men portrayed in the film) while they were attempting a "Big Year." For those of you that do not know what a big year is read the product description offered above. The movie is partly true and partly fiction.
I suspect that those who are interested in birding or are birders themselves will appreciate this film more than those who are not consumed by this "hobby." I will tell you that the movie very accurately portrays just what fanatical birders are and what they are capable of. It catches the essence of the competition perfectly and addresses the "problem" with complete and absolute obsession. I know of what I speak here as I am one of those unfortunately obsessed myself so I perfectly understood where these three men where coming from.
The acting in this movie was excellent as each actor played the part he or she was assigned perfectly. Each actor made the part he or she was playing perfectly believable and this is as it should be because, yes folks, there are indeed many, many individuals out there in the birding world just like what is portrayed on the screen.
I found this to be a very mellow film and a wonderful break from what we are dished out these days. The story had a quite, respectful and whimsical dignity about it that for me was captivating. I was entertained and I could most certainly relate. As a matter of fact, I think I am going to give this one another viewing this evening...the dogs and I.
This is a wonderful, old fashioned movie that isn't about something that most people care much about: Bird watching. Or "birding" as they call it.
Nothing huge happens. No continents fall into the ocean. No aliens land. No international crime lords captured. Just a charming film about three men, each of whom hopes to be the one to spot the most bird species during a one-year period.
There are subplots, but they aren't really so important. Each man has a "real life" that intrudes a bit. One has a father who disapproves and a job that must be attended to periodically. One has a wife who wants to get pregnant, and the husband just isn't around much. And one is trying to retire from a company that just can't seem to adjust to his being gone.
All that said, what the movie is really about is the passion, the absolute love, for birds that birders display. Really, it is an obsession.
I am married to a birder, and, yes, we might get a phone call on vacation that a special bird was spotted only 500 miles from where we are (and 10000 ft in altitude difference) and why don't we dash over and see it..... It can be trying for the non-birder (me). But how wonderful that a group of people can have an obsession, a real love, for something so simple, lovely, and harmless.
I found the film true to life, and really enjoyable. The combination of Jack Black, Owen Wilson, and Steve Martin was genius.
on July 14, 2015
The Big Year / Rated PG for naked birds everywhere.
Every now and then filmmakers find themselves in a dilemma about marketing their film, especially with an arcane subject. What they try to do is sell what they think the general public wants to see but is not the film they made. The previews for The Big Year seem to be selling a lame, pratfall filled comedy of manly competition. One scene from the preview is not even in the movie.
The arcane subject of TBY is bird watching. The three stars of TBY are Jack Black as a 36 year old hard working but obsessed birder (and the films narrator). Steve Martin plays the older birder trying to retire from his mega billion dollar company so he can spend more time looking through binoculars. Owen Wilson plays the World Champion Birder with a one year record of 733 sightings. I am pretty sure I’ve seen at least four, but wouldn’t swear to it. I know that most of them can fly and many are very tasty. SM and JB decide they want to have a Big Year and break the OW record. He decides not to let them.
Traveling is a must for Birders and they do. While filmed in Atlanta, Miami and Canada, the location subtitles indicate a much wider range of locales. The guys will do anything to spot a new species. Skipping meals, ignoring family and even passing up a Super Bowl is not beyond their desire to spot the most birds.
Adding to the story are vet actors Brian Dennehy, Dianne Wiest, JoBeth Williams and Anjelica Huston. Theodore Shapiro adds a big score which is the right touch of adventure to the big outdoors on display.
While the previews misrepresent this film in an effort to sell it to us, what they really need is word of mouth. I, for one, am here to open mine and tell you this is a neat film. The humor is appropriately low key for the true message about obsession, sacrifice, friendship and relationships. If you want to be a champion birder, you’ll learn from the films three main characters what they were willing to give up and what they learn from their Big Year. I learned a lot about birds. My next visit to KFC will be much different than my last one. The main thing this film has are great performances by the lead actors. By films end I really liked and admired all of them.
Back in 2000 I went to a film with low expectations but it
turned out to be a big surprise. Minnie Driver starred in the Bonnie Hunt movie Return to Me. It was beautifully written, funny and wonderfully human. The Big Year is the same experience except with feathers.
Rated 3.5 out of 4.0 Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers. Maybe they had Blue Bellies. Maybe not. They flew away in a big hurry.
on December 14, 2013
Watched this with my grandchildren, ages 14 & 11, and we had a few good laughs. I thought it taught a good lesson that I was able to reinforce with my grandchildren. "Sometimes you get what you want, and lose what's most important."