The Big Year [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy] (Bilingual)
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Never get between a birder and a Pink-footed Goose. As we learn from The Big Year, the intensity of birders (the term birdwatcher is dismissed here as insufficiently committed) is not to be taken lightly, and their quest of rare species creates the gentle comedy of this film, which is based on a real phenomenon. In the world of birders, there's a goal set each calendar year, and based on the honor system: who can spot the most varieties of our feathered friends? All-time champ Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is a legendary name in the birding game, and this year he's trying to beat his own record--but retired CEO Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) and slovenly upstart Brad Harris (Jack Black) are determined to topple the colorful and ruthless Bostick from his, er, perch. The movie's at its best when charting the movements of these obsessed enthusiasts in the wild, as they scramble from Alaska to Arizona to New Jersey in pursuit of their goal; it's less successful at trying to create human interest in the home lives of these guys. And despite the comedic talents of the main threesome, nobody really stands out; each plays to his usual persona without adding a new wrinkle. Director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) has a weirdly overqualified supporting cast on his hands, but except for Rosamund Pike as Bostick's neglected wife and Rashida Jones as a geeky birder, most of these folks flit by with little to do: Brian Dennehy and Dianne Wiest as Brad's parents, Anjelica Huston as a salty sea captain, Tim Blake Nelson as an awestruck birder. It's easy enough to enjoy this film for its offbeat subject and mild-mannered tone, even if there isn't anything terribly distinctive about it. --Robert Horton
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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.
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.
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!
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.