The Big Year

DIRECTOR: David Frankel

CAST: Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Rashida Jones


RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes


While they watch birds, we watch Jack Black being, well, Jack Black.

First things first: Stu Preissler, Kenny Bostick and Brad Harris frown upon being called “bird watchers”. No sir. They may have an expensive habit of watching birds but they are definitely not bird watchers. They prefer the term “birders.” Now that that’s out of the way, The Big Year is a almost big waste of cinema ticket money.

So what is it? It started as an old American tradition that saw men spot, skiet and almost donder different types of birds for sport.

Then, once they grew tired of massacring the winged animals, they decided to rather count the different species of birds that they would see. This became something Americans began doing as a competitive sport.

So being a birder then meant that you had to try and beat everyone else’s bird count to be known as the birder who had The Big Year. There’s no prize for it, just a title. It’s as weird as it sounds. But then again, as the opening scene of the film tells us, “This is a true story. Only the facts have changed.”

Who is in it? Brad is a character played by Jack Black and is pretty much like every second character Jack Black has played. Because of his social awkwardness, his weight and his resignation to being a disappointment to his father, Brad is the one birder who feels the expensive sport is something he can’t afford. Literally and otherwise.

He falls about everywhere, even when there is no justification for it. And even though Brad works a boring job he hates, he secretly believes he could win The Big Year. But first he has to break the record of reigning birder champ, Kenny Bostick (Wilson).

An obnoxious Bostick has a lots of money and a beautiful wife. But he spends his cash on trying to break his own record, keeping other birders off his trail and spends no time at all with his broody wife. He poses a threat to Brad and Stu too.

Stu (played by a silver haired Steve Martin) is a very successful businessman who has been delaying retirement because he struggles with the concept of mortality.

But he finally leaves his position as head of his company to try his luck at being the leader of the birding pack. The three men use their preferred past time as a way to battle the demons in their respective lives. In a word: boring.

What’s the film’s saving grace? Rashida Jones. The daughter of music legend, Quincey Jones, and Twin Peaks actress, Peggy Lipton, Jones plays Ellie, a birder who does it for the love of feathered creatures.

She is also the object of Brad’s affection, even though in typical comedy style, it takes him forever to let her know his true feelings.

Jones is the picture of restraint. She’s funny without seeming to pull teeth trying to make you laugh. The beautiful actress, who was an interesting addition to The Office (the US edition), also does the coolest impressions of bird sounds, which makes her quirky and cute.

If you liked … The Brothers Bloom …then you may want to watch a trailer of the Big Year.