Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Big Year

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Big Year - 3 out of 5

So, this movie is about Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson playing obsessed bird watchers (or "birders" as they like to be called) who are out to break the record of most birds seen--what those in the hobby call a Big Year.  Owen Wilson's character is the current record holder and Martin and Black are out to outdo him.  Martin's character is a financially successful businessman forcing himself to finally settle down and retire and uses birding to do so.  Black is a young man stuck in a go nowhere job with a passion for birding and decides its his time to try and make the record his.  Each character faces challenges in their own life that has an impact on their fowl quest.  Martin's company is constantly calling for his return, Black's job doesn't pay enough for him to travel the country to see these feathered friends and Wilson character's wife is forced to take a back seat to the Big Year. 

Wilson attempted suicide because he was unhappy.  He survives to play this role?
Keep everything sharp away from him.  (Yeah, I know this is a mean joke.)

This movie taught me one thing, above all else...birding, apparently, is popular enough to make a comedy out of but not popular enough to make the comedy funny.  Each man in this film, along with co-stars Tim Blake Nelson, an opening narration by John Cleese, Kevin Pollak, Joel McHale, Anthony Anderson, Rashida Jones and Anjelica Huston have all proven in the past to be attached to very funny projects and going into this film, I expected a sort-of Best In Show-style comedy but what I got was a mediocre film that didn't entirely make me hate it but didn't really give me many reasons to laugh.  Each character within this film actually seems like they are restraining themselves and stopping from being funny.  Except Owen Wilson, he plays a completely unlikeable character but unlike his other roles, this one you are suppose to not like him.

Martin is on the phone with his manager asking if it's possible to get paid for just
being Steve Martin.


Jack Black's performance in this almost makes me forget
about him doing Gulliver's Travels and King Kong...almost.
However, one thing that needs to be mentioned is how restrained Jack Black was.  It's a rare sight to see him headline a movie and not be obnoxious.  Don't get me wrong, I like Jack Black but sometimes, with him, less is more and he's better as a supporting role than a featuring star due to his over-the-top style.  But, believe it or not, Black comes off as a very sympathetic character on his journey to try and achieve a Big Year and become the world record holder and the scenes he share with Brian Dennehy who play's Black's father are genuinely heart-warming and sweet.

Dennehy doing his Jack Nicholson impression.

The Big Year contains an interesting enough story and no actor within the screen does anything that really hurts the film.  The only real drawback to the movie is it's not as funny as it could have been.  All the comedy moments come off more as something that would make you say, "that was amusing," than actually illicit a laugh.  Usually this would be a time when big name critics would come up with some lame tag that incorporates the movie title like "In the end, The Big Year was low on laughs and big on lack of creativity" but I won't do that unless I'm making fun of people who do that.  Simple put, The Big Year was just okay.  It wasn't terrible but not great either.

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