On first glance I assumed that this was going to be a ruckus comedy. It stars Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin as a group of guys who are competing to be the greatest bird watcher. As I knew nothing about Birding, I figured that this was going to be similar in tone to “Blades Of Glory”. How wrong I was.
Each of the aforementioned actors is playing a character who is pretty much at a cross roads in his life. They all love Birding and are determined to do a Big Year. After a little research I learned that a Big Year is one person’s journey to see as many different species of bird as they can. This involves chasing down rumors and leads about rare bird sightings in different parts of the world.
But the real story here is about how this hobby is not really a hobby at all. It is a passion, a love, even an obsession for these guys.
Jack Black’s character works a regular day job, is 37 years old, divorced and living with his disapproving parents. They don’t like the idea of their son basically amassing massive debt as he travels all over looking for birds.
Steve Martin is an executive for an unnamed corporation. Might be named I just don’t remember it. Anyway, he is retiring and his first order of business is to do a Big Year. Only problem is that the company really needs him and basically beg for his time to help close a series of deals.
Owen Wilson is the record holder for having seem over 730 species of bird in one year. This has come at great cost to his marriage as his wife is doing anything she can to keep her attention away from the fact that her husband is never there. This involves renovating the house to get his attention.
“The Big Year” was directed by David Frankel, who also made “Marley and Me” and “The Devil Wear’s Prada”. Here he takes a less flashy story and really succeeds. I got to spend some time with some nice characters who are all struggling to balance their lives with an obsession. I also learned quite about birds and the people who watch them.