Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cinema Saturday [The Big Year]

The Big Year
20th Century Fox
January 31, 2012
PG/100 minutes
info at IMDb/buy on Amazon
(Based on Mark Obmascik's book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession)

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?*

Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is the current all time champion and known in the birding world for his accomplishment. Brad Harris (Jack Black), new to the birding world and trying to work a full-time job all the while and Stu Preissler (Steve Martin), a CEO who's currently un-retired are out to have their own big years . . . And Bostick is back for his second, aiming to keep his record alive.

Harris and Preissler are less concerned with beating each other (though both want tot win) than with keeping the arrogant Bostick from winning his second big year.

The Big Year takes the characters all over the world in their hope of seeing the most bird species in a calendar years. From New Mexico to Alaska to the Everglades to New Jersey, they travel all over the United States in search of new birds. Sometimes chasing each other, sometimes trying to evade each other.

When I first saw the previews for this movie, I thought it was not at all my kind of movie. Something about the trailers didn't appeal to me. I thought it looked just goofy and weird (sorry!). But when I looked into it more when Think Jam emailed me about it, actually read what it was about, I thought I might like it.

It turns out, the movie is a lot different that I expected it to be. It's not a slapstick comedy or like an SNL skit about birdwatchers and how serious they can get about their sport.  While The Big Year does show how seriously birders can take their big years - or even just recreational (albeit semi-serious recreational) birding, it's not a big joke about that.

The movie is more of a grown-up buddy comedy. Their is a great friendship in the movie between Priessler (Martin) and Harris (Black) that has its ups and downs. There is also a great focus on the different familial relationships the different men have; and how hard it can be to have a passion for something (birding) and balance that with your home life and/or work life. Some of the characters do a better job than others figuring out where and how to dedicate themselves.

The Big Year is, of course, incredibly funny (I don't think you can have Steve Martin and Jack Black and Owen Wilson in a movie and it not be funny - one of them, I'm sure, two of them maybe, three of them and it not be funny? I'd have to see that.) . . . it is, however more of a dramedy - as long as the emphasis stays on the medy part.

This was a great movie with some really fantastic actors, great scenery (even if the characters don't enjoy it, you can), and a good story line. It should appeal to a lot of ages.

Thank you to ThinkJam for providing my copy of this movie :)

*from Amazon synopsis

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