Bird watching comedy falls flat

Even with comedy trio of Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black, The Big Year is short on laughs.

For those of us who might think The Big Year is a laugh a minute—and why not considering the stellar cast, notably Steve Martin,  Jack Black and Owen Wilson—you’ll be disappointed.

The Big Year refers to a bird watching competition where (mostly) grown men virtually give up a year of their lives to be the best birder in the world by personally viewing the most species of birds—yeah, I know, riveting stuff!

Unless of course you’re over 40 and a bird watcher, then you’ll find The Big Year a big deal.

Sadly, while I’m way over 40, I’m not a bird watcher. Oh sure, I like our winged friends, but I’ve eaten way too many Cornish hens to be taken seriously as a bird person.

There were chuckles and how could there not be given the cast that also includes Angelica Huston,  John Cleese (narration only) Jo Beth Williams, Brian Dennehy, and Dianne Wiest.

But regrettably, even with these names the show did not provide the entertainment value we hoped for.

There was some lovely scenery, probably because it was filmed partly in B.C., for a great deal of the show, and there were a few lessons about life .

Martin’s character (Stu Preissler) was so afraid to retire that he kept going back to the corporation he started; Black’s character (Bill Harris) is not taken seriously by his father or his peers; and Wilson’s Kenny Bostick, a former Big Year winner, is so obsessed with repeating his own Big Year that he is willing to give up everything to be the big bird count winner once again.

If you have a pacemaker and your doctor has told you not to get excited, or if you’ve had a recent facelift and you can’t smile for a while, then this show just might be the one to see.

There were only a handful of folks at the 6:55 p.m. show I went to so I think the word’s out on this one—the bird may not be the word this time around.

Best line from the movie: “ There’s no prize money, but the bird seed endorsements are huge.”

I give this one two reels.


Susan Steen is the executive director of the Central Okanagan Hospice Association and a self-confessed movie buff.


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