Jack Black stars as Brad Harris - an avid bird watcher (or birder) who
has dreamed of competing in The Big Year. It's a year-long battle to
see the most species of birds on the North American continent, and Brad
has been training to beat the world record set by legendary bird
watcher (or birder), Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson). Also attempting to
compete in The Big Year is Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) - a corporate
titan who is retiring, so he can spend the year traveling around.
How far will each one go to win?
The Big Year is as close to bland as you can
get without falling asleep. It's the mayonnaise of movies. Instead of
being some crazy, outlandish, Will Ferrell-style comedy, director David
Frankel and writer Howard Franklin (based on the book by Mark Obmascik)
deliver a movie that is trying to be sweet and sappy, but suffers from
being too earnest and calm. It's like Frankel and Franklin are afraid
to go out on a limb for fear of offending anyone (or making us laugh).
Some chances are present to be goofy and crazy. Kenny Bostick is
portrayed as a conniving, possibly cheating champion who is willing to
deceive, outright lie and use any method of subterfuge possible to
maintain his record, but we only see one possible act like this, so it
neuters the character and makes him less interesting.
As an actor, Black is well known for acting crazy and taking plenty of
pratfalls (Martin has done his share of that over the years as well),
but both seem to be on their best behavior in The Big Year. Both are
underrated dramatic actors (especially Martin, check him out in The
Spanish Prisoner some time if you don't believe me), but their
characters, and the whole movie (to be more precise), are caught in
some weird zone between comedy and drama that doesn't have enough of
either to qualify as a dramedy.
Even the great list of stars brought in for small parts (Rashida Jones,
Kevin Pollack, Joel McHale, Jim Parsons, Anjelica Huston, Tim Blake
Nelson and more) seem to be devoid of enough personality and material
to amaze us.
Instead, The Big Year wants to teach us a lesson about what is
important in life, and the dangers of obsession over the trivial. Ugh.
Sure, the movie can be sweet at times with some funny moments, but The
Big Year lacks any real tension to make it dramatic, funny,
compelling or interesting.
The Big Year is rated PG for language and some