Saturday, March 25, 2023


October 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

If you think you have seen a movie about every sport that has ever existed, think again. The Big Year is a movie about competitive bird watching and stars Owen Wilson as the champion — a man who has spotted more than 700 bird species in a single year — and Steve Martin and Jack Black as two of his challengers. The contest’s color analyst … er … narrator is John Cleese, who also provides a primer on the sport of “birding.” The movie, writes Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times, “has an innocence and charm that will make it appealing for families, especially those who have had enough whales and dolphins for the year.” A.O. Scott in the New York Times uses the adjectives “gentle and low-key” to describe the film, adjectives that are unlikely to turn up in ads appearing on the movie pages, where the preferred words for selling comedies include “outrageous” and “uproarious.” Likewise Ty Burr in the Boston Globe observes that the three leading characters in the movie are “good company. So, in its fubsy [dumpy] way, is the movie.” And Betsy Sharky writes that while the movie “might not soar … there is some harmless pleasure to be found when feathers aren’t ruffled, when the fowl is not foul.” Rex Reed in the New York observer was neither charmed by the movie — nor by its stars. “Steve Martin has isolated moments trying in vain to choke some humor out of a film that is only slightly less amusing than a case of bird fever,” he writes, “but he’s got his work cut out for him sharing the screen with Jack Black and Owen Wilson, two of the screen’s most annoying unsolved mysteries.” And Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune concludes that this “gentle, diffident concoction … has barely enough pulse to power a hummingbird.”