Review: The Big Year
PLOT: Three avid birdwatchers (Steve Martin, Jack Black & Owen Wilson) compete with each other to see who can win the “big year”, which is an annual competition judging who can spot the most species of birds.
REVIEW: THE BIG YEAR is a real event. Yup, every year, birdwatchers (or birders) compete to see who can spot the most species of birds within a chosen geographical area. Interesting, right? Well yeah, it kind of is, and if THE BIG YEAR was an article in Vanity Fair, it might have been a fun read.
But as a movie? YAWN.
Of course, if Fox had its way, you’d never know THE BIG YEAR was a movie about bird watching- based on the early trailers and poster. Heck, you can’t really blame them- and sure enough, this is a pretty boring film.
Worse, it isn’t funny, which begs the question, how can you make a movie starring Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and the great Steve Martin, and have all the gags fall flat? Amazingly enough, director David Frankel has found a way. THE BIG YEAR is just an appalling film. Frankel probably thought he was making a funny film, but every joke just dies. And once Frankel decides to get a little serious? Whooo boy.
Each of the three leads is cast according to type. Martin plays the older, sarcastic family man (cue lots of gooey sentimentality that’s like something left over from CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2) who’s freshly retired, and taking some time off from his family to pursue his birding passion. Meanwhile, Black plays the “zany” one, in that he’s a 36 year-old slacker who spends his life savings to pursue his bird-watching dream, while his disapproving father (played by Brian Dennehy of all people) looks on. Finally, we get Wilson, playing his usual snarky jackass, no different from his roles in MEET THE PARENTS/FOCKERS/LITTLE FOCKERS, and HOW DO YOU KNOW.
More than anyone, this is a real step back for Wilson, who’s coming off a career-best performance in Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, but here is back to the shtick that’s made him insufferable in his last half-dozen or so films (his Wes Anderson work being exempt of course). Of all the characters, he’s the hardest to understand, with him ditching his Goddess wife (Rosamund Pike, one of the most beautiful women on the planet) to watch birds, while simultaneously treating everyone like dirt. Considering the amount of screen time spent with him, I guess we’re supposed to like him. We don’t.
Martin and Black don’t do much better, but that’s hardly surprising given their recent track records. Martin is a comedy God, but what is he doing? He’s hilarious in interviews, or when hosting the Oscars, but has he done anything worthwhile since BOWFINGER? As for Black, he hasn’t been in much worth seeing lately, but even by his recent low standards this is pretty bad. In fact, the only other film he’s been in that might be (marginally) worse is ENVY.
It’s really a shame how much THE BIG YEAR wastes the talents of everyone involved. Besides Martin, Wilson, and Black, this also features Tim Blake Nelson, Rashida Jones, Kevin Pollack, Joel McHale, Jim Parsons, and more but alas, there isn’t so much as a chuckle from any of them.
THE BIG YEAR really is a travesty, and probably my pick for the worst studio film of the year (that I’ve seen anyway). It’s a disaster for everyone involved, and a prime example of how a quirky premise, and a talented cast isn’t enough to make a good film.
|Extra Tidbit:||At one point there's a COLDPLAY montage. Yup, that's what we're dealing with here.|