The Big Year
The character development is good, but the back-and-forth of the movie can be a little distracting.
While watching The Big Year I was both disappointed and pleasantly surprised. The disappointment was, with comedy superstars such as Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson, that it wasn’t as funny as I had anticipated it would be. The pleasant surprise was that it still turned out to be a very good movie.
The Big Year is about three men trying to find their calling in life and they all have one thing in common, birding. Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) is a very successful business man who fears moving on with retirement. Brad Harris (Jack Black) is 36, broke, divorced, hates his full-time job at Dell, and his dad disapproves of his birding heavily. Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) or “Bostick”, as everyone calls him in the movie, holds the previous year’s record for birding (732 species) and is willing to put his whole life on hold to defend his title. These three, along with other characters in the movie, are on a mission to find what makes them truly happy.
The rules of having a Big Year are simple. Whoever sees the most birds in one calendar year in the United States is the champion birder. To count the bird, all you have to do is see it, or hear it, if you’re good enough. The whole competition is based on the honor system and, surprisingly enough, nobody cheats. The winner of the Big Year is printed in Birder Magazine and goes down in history as the person who saw the most birds in one year.
Throughout the movie, no one wants to admit that they are going for a Big Year. For fear of stronger competition, they all keep their mouths shut and claim they are in it for the sport. Preissler and Harris meet on a boat while looking for gulls and quickly become friends. Bostick makes nice with the duo, but ultimately tries to sabotage them every chance he gets. This soon becomes an issue for Preissler and Harris and, upon discovering that they were both going for a Big Year, team up to not only beat Bostick, but beat his world record.
Throughout The Big Year it feels like Preissler, Bostick, and Harris are trying to escape their old lives but can’t quite seem to break free. Preissler’s two associates at work won’t leave him alone and they claim that a large business deal will fall through if he doesn’t come back immediately. On top of that, he is sacrificing valuable family time beings his grandson was born in the same year as the competition. Harris is broke and he has to maintain his full time job whilst traveling at his credit cards’ and disapproving family’s expense. Bostick, who might be the most die-hard birder, sacrifices his marriage by abandoning his wife while she is having hormone treatments. Each character has their own quirks to work out but it makes the viewer ask themselves: What would I sacrifice to follow my dream?
All in all this was a surprisingly entertaining movie that takes you on an adventure all around America. The best parts may have actually been the editing, the soundtrack, and the birds and locations you get to see. The character development is good, but the back-and-forth of the movie can be a little distracting. Above all, I will say, almost everyone can relate to the characters’ struggles. The Big Year is a fun movie to watch with anyone and is entertaining from the opening and all the way through the ending credits.