The Big Year review by Captain Video

What is the price for following your dreams? Are there any movies with Jack Black in which he doesn't do the "rockon" gesture? I honestly don't know, but I get the feeling that the rockon hand gesture must be some sort of trademark for him. He even managed to work metal horns into a film about bird watching (a.k.a birding).

The Big Year follows the story of three obsessive birders. Two of them are trying claim the big year top position and the third is trying to defend his title from the previous year. The Big Year contest is a race to see who can spot the largest number of bird species in a given year. The reigning champion is Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) and he is determined to keep his top-dog status safe. 30 something slacker Brad Harris (Jack Black) has decided that this is the year for him to follow his life dream and sets out to give Kenny a run for his money. Our third birder is Stu Preissler (Steve Martin). Stu is a successful businessman that is trying to retire and live out his dream of a Big Year.

With three big names in the world of comedy, you might expect a laugh a minute, however, you will enjoy this film more if you start with much lower expectations. Oddly, there isn't much joint screen time with all three leads. The Jack Black and Steve Martin characters team up to topple Owen Wilson, the story arcs sweep in and out among the three, but mostly in pairs.

Kenny Bostick starts his birding year coming out of the gate at full speed, much to the annoyance of his neglected wife. She wants to start a family and has been taking fertility treatments. Kenny can't let go of his obsession and all the time away from home is damaging this relationship. Stu has a more supportive relationship with his wife, and his conflict is centered on his attempts to retire form the business that he built. The yes men that he left behind at the office keep trying to bring him back in to close one last deal. This is the least entertaining storyline, it does not add any comedic or dramatic value to the overall story and even the great Steve Martin can't save this role. Brad Harris is determined that this will be his year, and so his relationships are tied to his parents, and of course the mandatory love interest. Brad has to heal his relationship with his aging and ailing father as well as "get the girl".

So, The Big Year isn't only about following 3 birders around the US as they compete to find as many bird species as they can, it is also about relationships. Relationships with co-workers, friends, parents and your significant other. Finally, it is also about the fine line between passion and obsession. Shared passions can build relationships, while obsessions can destroy them.

While I can only give The Big Year an average rating, I do commend the makers for resisting the temptation to make immature jokes about bird names, such as the Blue-Footed Booby, I am not sure I could pass up such an easy joke.

The Big Year barely gets 5 Jackasses.

5 out of 10 Jackasses
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