In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_morris_from_america

Morris From America

Morris from America is not the kind of film that stays with you, but its central performances do.

Thumb_kate_plays_christine

Kate Plays Christine

An actress prepares to play the role of a suicidal news anchor, and is slowly transformed by the experience.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

The Big Year

The Big Year Movie Review
  |  

Birders. You call them birders. Calling them "bird-watchers" is insulting, like calling a Trekker a Trekkie. They are aware that some people find birding to be an eccentric hobby, but you get better exercise and scenery than you do with golf, and you don't have to play the game.



I had no idea there was such a thing as competitive bird-watching, but "The Big Year" assures us that there is. An annual award goes to the birder who sees the most different species in a year. They will not conveniently flutter before your eyes. You have to look hard for them. In championship-level birding, this is known as having a Big Year. Is there nothing left in our society that isn't competitive? Would you believe the winners score above 700?

"The Big Year" is about such a year, involving Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson), the defending champion, and two others who are trying to sprinkle salt on his tail: Brad Harris (Jack Black) and Stu Preissler (Steve Martin). If you know the actors you know the characters, especially Bostick, who is the standard-issue Owen Wilson: a smooth-talking master of one-upmanship. Jack Black plays his usual over-enthusiastic bumbler, and Steve Martin seems always in a zone of intent earnestness.

You must have to be wealthy to do a Big Year. Bostick, for example, seems permanently on leave from his job as a CEO. You spend all of your time frantically chasing down rumors of rare bird sightings in remote locations, of which the most remote is an island in the Aleutians that is closer to Tokyo than Anchorage. There's apparently a nice little tourist trade.

The comedy involves Bostick's dirty tricks, camaraderie among the others, various romances in the field, other peculiar birders and evidence that marriage to a birder, we might suspect, is no easy task. The film is always somewhere going somewhere else, and while the characters are spotting birds, we can spot actors: Kevin Pollak, Tim Blake Nelson, Rashida Jones, Anjelica Huston, Dianne Wiest, Rosamund Pike, Joel McHale, JoBeth Williams, Brian Dennehy and even Al Roker.

There is some great bird photography here. I wish there had been more. I think I may have seen Jack Black falling down enough for this lifetime. "The Big Year" is getting the enthusiastic support of the Audubon Society, and has an innocence and charm that will make it appealing for families, especially those who have had enough whales and dolphins for the year.



Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Hollywood Gave Up on You: The Summer Movies of 2016

A look back at how this summer's best offering, Netflix's "Stranger Things," makes the failure of this season's block...

No Matter Where You Go, Here It Is: "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" Hits Blu-ray

A celebration of the cult classic "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension," in light of the film'...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus