64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 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.
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 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.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
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!
96 of 112 people found the following review helpful
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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2012
I think people expected this movie to be non-stop cornball comedy, a reasonable assumption given the 3 main actors. In fact, I almost didn't see it because I prefer other types of movies. However, we loved it! We thought it was funny, and a light-hearted drama, and, most of all, interesting. After the movie we looked up the information they gave in the movie, and it appears that the basic facts are true, such as there being a "Big Year" birdwatching contest, and the birds on the Attu Island (which I'd never heard of). Although we enjoy nature, we are by no means bird-watching enthusiasts, but we got a kick out of seeing people take "enjoyment of birds" to a whole new level. Ultimately, the movie is about life and the choices you make, and that a life without Regrets is one lived with Balance.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2012
Three great actors, fresh subject matter (what other movie plot features a birding competition?), and touching sub-plots make this movie a winner. I even managed to learn a bit about birds! Great wholesome movie.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
You'd think a movie, based on something as low key as birdwatching, would be a tough sell to Hollywood. Folks tramping around remote areas, waiting, watching, sipping from thermoses to catch a glimpse of a single bird, yeah, not real up there on the excitement meter. This film delivers a whole lot of laid back moments and not a single high speed chase. Well... maybe I need to rephrase that, there are no hostage situations or shoot outs.
Scenery and quirky characters abound. Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson are perfectly cast and the acting is spot on. The interaction between characters is stellar and there is a bitter sweetness as each man comes to grip with the uniquely similar obsession to catch sight of elusive birds. Drama, depth of character, quirky editing, this story about men's secret passions and the lengths they will travel to plant a flag on a mountaintop, or a feather on a cap, is entertaining and inspiring. I loved this quirky, charming and character rich film.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2012
Love it! Mix of comedy and drama, without Jack Black being stupid or annoying. Steve Martin has transitioned nicely into a grown up actor. Wilson is Wilson - but he only knows how to play himself. I'd watch it again.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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.