Did you know that there’s an unofficial competition for birders (a.k.a. bird-watchers)? Really, there is. It’s called a “big year.” If a birder does a big year, he or she is tries to see the most bird species possible in North America during a calendar year. Because it’s unofficial, it goes off the honor system and there’s no prize whatsoever. Don’t belive me? Google it.
The Big Year tells the story of three guys doing big years. Jack Black plays the lead, a 40-something divorcee trying to fulfill his lifelong dream and do what he loves – birding. Steve Martin plays a successful retiring businessman also looking forward to escaping the office and living his dream. And Owen Wilson plays our third birder, the returning champion with a big year world record of 732 species. Birding isn’t so much his passion as it is something he’s good at. He’s not doing another big year for the love of it; he’s in it to defend his record. With each of our three leads being in different phases of life, we see the different sacrifices that each must make in order to complete the big year.
The Big Year isn’t terrible – it’s just not made more me. It’s made for older audiences, the same who fit the bill for The Bucket List. Everyone else will most likely be bored by the slow pace of the film and the light laughs.
If you’re able to sit and watch birds for hours, sitting through The Big Year will be a breeze and you just might enjoy it.