Who thought it would be a good idea to make a film about birding, one of the dullest hobbies on paper without a doubt? Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson star in David Frankel‘s birding comedy that plays out more like a dull history lesson about birds, uninteresting characters and irritating voice overs.
Not even Rashida Jones could save this film with her brief role as the love interest for slob boy Jack Black, but at least Anthony Anderson‘s cameo appearance proves that he can take a role without trying to be funny. Oh, who am I kidding, there’s nothing good about The Big Year. It’s a train-wreck before it even leaves the station.
Brad (Jack Black), Kenny (Owen Wilson) and Stu (Steve Martin) are all birders, or men who enjoy bird watching on a serious level. Brad is sort of the loser who lives with his parents, doesn’t have a girlfriend and has no plans for a future. He works as a tech guy for some important computer company, but his real calling is birds. He can identity just about any type of bird just by hearing it.
Kenny holds the record for spotting the most birds in a “big year” adventure. For those of you not familiar with the extreme bird watching ways, a “big year” is basically a full year dedicated to spotting birds and either recording them in a notebook or snapping up pictures to share with other avid watchers.
Last but not least there’s Stu, the retired wealthy man that can’t leave the company no matter how hard he tries. Every time he gets away for some birding he gets sucked right back in.
The Big Year is as dull as it sounds. Heck, it might even be worse. It’s a film that has three leads and not a single one is the least bit interesting. It’s not because the hobby of birding is boring or pathetic, oh no, it’s just because not one ounce of energy is spotted on any of the three characters. Brad is kind of depressing and smelly, Kenny deserves to be sad and all alone and Stu just doesn’t really have any “real” problems.
The film just sort of follows these three idiots around as they run into each other and compete over capturing the most birds. The lack of proof is also a big factor in the film. You don’t even need to take a picture of the birds if you don’t want to; you can simply TELL people that you’ve seen this type of bird or that type and they’ll believe you! Honesty doesn’t really work in modern times, but I guess birders come from a different breed.
Jack Black continues to phone in the usual Jack Black. He’s lifeless and lacking any talent, like usual. Steve Martin gives another paycheck performance minus any minor laughs and Owen Wilson seems to be high on some sort of drug the whole film. Each actor almost appears to be trying their hardest to not act in the film. It’s really weird watching them get more lost playing in the film then we get lost watching it.
The Big Year is proof that some films just don’t need to be made. I don’t care if it’s based on a true story or not, if you can’t get the attention of the general public then don’t even bother hiring known actors like Black, Martin and Wilson. You’d be better off making a documentary or some sort of TV special. The Big Year doesn’t feel like a film, it feels more like a prison sentence. It’s unbearable to watch, feeling like a 12 hour stay at the dentist. Avoid it if you value your time and life in general.
Even the picture looks boring in this film. The 1080p transfer consists of some heavy grain, which bogs down the colors and makes everything look as tired and washed out as the actors in the film. Detail isn’t really all that apparent, yet the transfer isn’t a complete waste. Some brighter colors provide that high-def pop we’ve grown accustom to, but it’s all soft and filtered for the most part.
Yawn, the audio is in the same boat. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is okay, but again, it doesn’t really bring life into the film. Birds can be heard chirping in the back channels while the actors talk facts in the front, but nothing really links all the channels together. It just sort of feels like random bursts of sound just to make sure you don’t fall completely asleep.
I wish I could say the special features help lift the spirit of the disc, but they don’t. They’re just as sleep-inducing as the rest of the package. Here’s a full list below.
- The Big Migration (HD): A making-of feature that follows the cast and crew as they film in various locations across North America.
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- Gag Reel (HD)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD)
- Sneak Peak at other Fox titles (HD)
- DVD Copy
- Digital Copy
I’m still kind of surprised that Fox even took a chance with the film. I remember watching it fail miserably at the box office, not even making it in the top five during its opening week. It just goes to show that even the star power of Black, Martin and Wilson can’t attract a crowd to the topic of bird watching.
I’m sure the birders migrated to the theaters to check it out, but that’s all of 150 people in the world. I’m sure that number is wrong; it’s probably more like 50. Regardless of how many people actually partake in the watching of birds is irrelevant because the film fails to grab the attention of casual moviegoers. It’s just too basic. The script could have really benefited from some jokes, especially when you cast three actors that are known for their comedic roles. There’s not a single laugh to be had in The Big Year, which spells trouble very early on in the film.
The Blu-Ray disc isn’t that much better. The video is too soft for any real detail to break out and the audio track is low and lacking any real surrounding activity. The disc is rounded off with some shallow features and a DVD and Digital Copy for the brave ones willing to watch this film again elsewhere. I don’t think I’d ever wish this much pain on an individual. Watching The Big Year is like getting slowly beaten to death with a spoon.