Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black star in 'The Big Year': movie review
The new bromantic comedy 'The Big Year,' starring Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black, about bird-watching doesn't go far enough in portraying the passion of the hobby.
I'm willing to concede that being a birder is a worthy pastime, but is birding good movie material? Maybe it is if you're making a documentary for Animal Planet. The new bromantic comedy "The Big Year," starring Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black, didn't exactly change my mind, but every once in a while it captures a suitable-for-framing shot of an avian wonder. Assuming, alas, I haven't been duped by a CGI effect.Skip to next paragraph
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The human-based material is less wonderful. Martin's Stu, a wealthy businessman with an adoring wife (JoBeth Williams) and family and a palatial retreat in Vail, Colo., is primed to retire and pursue his lifelong dream. This turns out to be placing in the real-life Big Year competition, in which the winner spots the most species of birds in North America within one calendar year.
Jack Black's Brad is a computer code writer and layabout who wants to be the best at something – in this case, bird-watching. He, too, sets out on his Big Year, setting aside his weekends.
Both men have their sights set on Owen Wilson's unscrupulous Kenny, a successful contractor whose 732 bird sightings is the current world record. Kenny's wife (Rosamund Pike) has been undergoing fertility treatments and complains about his gallivanting, which apparently wrecked a previous marriage. He's determined to make this one work, but if it's a choice between helping out at home or holding on to his championship, you can guess what he goes for.
Even though none of these guys is ready to kick the bucket, "The Big Year" has an unmistakable affinity with "The Bucket List," another bromance that attempted the calisthenic feat of simultaneously tickling our funny bone, plucking our heartstrings, and draining our tear ducts. The problem is that director David Frankel and screenwriter Howard Franklin, working off a nonfiction book by Mark Obmascik, are experts at neither tickling, plucking, nor draining.