The Big Year review

You would've thought that a movie starring top funnymen Martin, Black and Wilson would generate some laughs. Think again. There's not a chuckle to be had in this awful tale of three guys trying to score the record in witnessing the most number of birds (the flying variety) in one year. Yep, it's a lighthearted story about birders, the trendier term for birdwatchers one assumes.

Martin is the businessman approaching retirement, Black the insecure office worker and Wilson the smug contractor, a previous winner of the 2004 title and now hoping to win again. They traverse the US and Canada trying to one-up each other in their quest for victory in sighting the largest number of winged creatures. But we also get to see how their passion for the subject affects their loved ones too. Black's dad (Dennehy) for example is very dismissive of him until he sees the competitive nature of the enterprise, while Owen's beautiful wife (Pike) is desperate for a child with him if only he could spend time with her. There's also support from Huston as a  tugboat owner, Pollak as one of Martin's beleaguered underlings and Blake Nelson as a fellow birder. How could such a duff exercise attract such a good cast?

Director Frankel, who had hits with The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me, comes a cropper here. This one has been one of the lowest grossing films of the year in the US. Despite his efforts to keep things bustling along swiftly, it's all terribly lame, with hamfisted homilies about love, family and friendship that are horribly sappy and sentimental. And it's tedious to boot. Don't waste your time.

The Big Year at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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