The Big Year: Capsule Review

The Big Year:

A pretty good film. Owen Wilson was surprisingly effective in the role of an experienced birder (they don’t like to be called bird-watchers) who is being challenged by two other men to sight & record the most birds in one calendar year.

Steve Martin is the elder of the trio, and his newer, gentler form of laid back comedy gives his performance a kind of sweetness that is sometimes lacking in his roles. Jack Black is also able to shine as the younger man who is seemingly lost and floundering at times.

The narration provided by Black’s character is a bit confusing as it trails off at some point. But it doesn’t overly detract and the film has a beautiful photographic feel in the ebbs and flows of the progress of the three birders as we trail them through the scenic vistas of the Americas to watch the rarest species in their native habitats.

Two things stand out. The first is that this source of material is, if nothing else, refreshingly different. We see some plots that begin with science fiction PLUS werewolves PLUS a car chase PLUS a vampire….you get the drift. You don’t see any films dealing with serious Audubon enthusiasts and that, in itself is refreshing.
The second point being that Comedy is hard, yet this is a light-hearted attempt at laughs and the reviews don’t give the material credit. It’s a sweet film at times with a message of redemption in seeking what we believe to be the most important things in life. And that happens to be a good message for our times.

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