The Big Year

• TOP NOTCH (my top choices)
• HONORABLE MENTION (well worth watching)
• YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER (I like them but you might not)
• CLASSICS (Great movies up through the 1960s - many don't have any rating)

 Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Steve Martin    

Summary -  Three obsessive bird watchers go off on their "Big Year," duking it out to spot and record the highest number of species in 1998--the year El Nino brought an unprecedented number of species to North America. During the course of their wild, ultra competitive adventure, the guys learn that there just may be other things more important than winning.

Cautions - A little swearing and one rude hand gesture.

Commentary - The film was a box office failure, bringing in just $7.4 million worldwide from a budget of $41 million. The critics who liked it used words like, "gentle," "sweet," and "mild." The biggest criticism against the film was that it wasn't funny enough with comments such as, "not wacky at all," "failing even to attempt genuinely humorous gags or scenarios," and "instantly disposable comedy.

The worst review, in my opinion is this comment from Scott Shalaway of the Pittsburgh Post Gazett: "gentle, light-hearted comedy" about "people trying to be the best, following their dreams and enjoying the wonder of birds"

If you think this movie is about birding, you've missed the whole point! AND who ever said this was a comedy? Yes, it's main players are comic geniuses, and yes, there are some comedic moments in the film but this is NOT a wacky, comedic farce about those crazy bird watchers. The bad reviews this movie got have a lot more to do with it not fulfilling a viewer's preconceived notion of what the film would deliver. And, that's too bad.

So what is this movie about? It's about priorities. It's about the fact that people and relationships are more important than our vain ambitions to court the accolades of the world (and the cost of forgetting that.) That good people can get lost in the pursuit of fame. I think the writers chose birding because it's easy to see it as a waste of time but the story could just as easily been about climbing the corporate ladder, working to be a famous performer or anything that becomes more important than those we love, more important than family. Any of those distractions are just as frivolous, in the long run, as how many birds you saw in a year. That, in my humble opinion, is what the movie's about. If you watch it through that lens, I think you will be greatly rewarded.

I think it is a marvelous film with some really insightful moments. Taken for what it is, it's pretty hard to resist.


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