The Big Year (2/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 99 minutes.
OK for children.
One of the major prerequisites
for a successful movie is that the protagonist be someone with whom the
audience can identify. One must be on Jason Bourne's side as he eludes
everyone out to get him. One must agree with Scarlett O'Hara that
"tomorrow is another day." One must commiserate with Rick when he says,
"We'll always have Paris."
So to make a movie about
people who sublimate everything in their lives to looking at birds is a
stretch. Poor Owen Wilson. After Paris at Midnight I thought he
had broken out of his almost unbroken stretch of rotten movies. But,
alas, here he is again in a movie that could break the record for most
times looking at a watch to see how much longer the thing can last.
He's joined by Steve Martin
and Jack Black, both of whom are very familiar with rotten movies, since
they've both spent the better part of their filmmaking lives making
them. I'm sure that there are people who do what the three of them do in
this movie, looking at birds, but most people will have a very difficult
time admiring people who fly all over the world, just on the hope that a
bird might be in some far flung locale, like the island Attu in the
Aleutians, which is closer to Tokyo than Anchorage, Alaska. But that's
what these people do in this movie.
"The Big Year" is apparently
something that bird watchers do; who can see the most different species
of birds within a single year. Wilson is the record holder. Martin and
Black are out to top him, so it's a kind of nerdy competition.
Wilson's obsession has cost
him one wife (at least) and the one he has now is understanding beyond
belief as he chases his birds, ignoring her for the entire year. Martin
is a big corporate CEO who has a bird obsession and Black is a down and
out loser living with his parents who is also struck with the same
obsession. All have families who are so supportive that it defies
The only redeeming grace of
this movie is the cinematography of the different locales. None of them
find their birds on the streets of Manhattan. They have to go to exotic
locations from the Yukon to the Florida Keys with places like Whistler,
Vancouver, Tofino, New York City, California's Joshua Tree in between.
There are some beautiful shots that would make any travelogue proud.
Unfortunately, there's a story in between.
October 12, 2011