THE BIG YEAR, Fun With Birds

LARGE big year POST

By John Delia

Now here’s an entertaining film with no violence, sexual content, abusive language, shooting, blood, well any of that stuff that’s designed to ramp up your blood pressure.  It’s called The Big Year and what a great respite from all that aggression that we are seeing at the theater lately.  Very funny, quick paced and fit for the whole family.  

Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) has been trying to retire from the business he started, but no one wants to take over for him. Brad Harris (Jack Black) finds himself bored with his deadened job with chances for achieving his lifetime dream waning.  Ken Bostick’s (Owen Wilson) in a quandary with a life choice or a world record hanging in the balance.  

The three have something in common, a chance to be number 1 in the world of birding. Umm, yes birding…the art of being in the presence of birds, the more the better.  In fact there is a contest held every year for counting (seeing or hearing) the most birds of different species with the winner having the title of World’s Greatest Birder.

Now, Bostick already holds that title and in fact three years running.  And in spite of the fact that his wife wants to have a child, he finds himself compelled to enter the contest again this year.  With both Stu and Brad on the hunt to topple his mark, the race begins.

Bostick (Wilson) Stu (Martin) and Brad (Black) in THE BIG YEAR

The three comedy experts work very well together, each putting their best efforts into portraying their characters the way they do it best.  In fact there’s one scene where Martin does his signature funny dance with arms flaying and legs going all directions.  I’m sure you’ll recognize it from several films (The Jerk for one).  Black brings his creative comedy like you’ve seen in the films Schoolhouse Rock and Shallow Hal as he goes around the country counting birds and spending his last dime to prove he can be a winner.

Wilson inserts his wry humor while outwitting Stu and Brad at every turn.  His calm and cool behavior shows up big in the wilds due to his birding knowledge, but dealing with a wife who has childbearing demands puts a damper on his bird finding hobby.  As Bostick he’s the Keven Rawley character in the Meet The Fockers series, especially when he has the upper hand over Stu and Brad.

Director David Frankel keeps his film moving at a fast pace, introducing his characters creating the reasons why they find birding challenging and sending them off in all directions on a very funny road towards their life’s ultimate goal.  It’s not really about the birds, but the challenges the three face in life, the choices they make and acceptance of their fate and Frankel keeps the focus there even in some of the funniest situations.

The Big Year is rated PG for language and some sensuality, but nothing parents couldn’t handle with a youngster in tow.  It’s a fun film for most all ages, especially nature lovers who are open to the joys of the great outdoors.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Get out your bird book and fly to see The Big Year. (B+)

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