The Big Year
The Big Year is a 2011 American comedy film starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin. The Big Year was directed by David Frankel and written by Howard Franklin. It was based on the 2004 nonfiction book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik. The book followed three men on a quest for a Big Year - a competition among birders to see who can see and identify the greatest number of species of birds in North America (north of Mexico) in a calendar year. The actual men were Sandy Komito, Al Levantin, and Greg Miller, who were chasing Komito's prior record. The film uses the same premise with fictional characters.
|The Big Year|
|Directed by||David Frankel|
|Written by||Howard Franklin|
|Based on||The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession|
by Mark Obmascik
|Produced by||Karen Rosenfelt|
|Edited by||Mark Livolsi|
|Music by||Theodore Shapiro|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
The film follows three seasoned birders who each set out to achieve a Big Year. They are Brad Harris (Jack Black), a 36-year-old computer programmer based in Baltimore; Stu Preissler (Steve Martin), founder and CEO of a New York company bearing his name; and a roofing contractor named Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson), who holds the current Big Year record of 732 birds.
Bostick is obsessively possessive of his record, but his third wife Jessica (Rosamund Pike) is concerned; this was supposed to be the year they focused on conceiving a child. She also believes that Bostick's birding obsession is what destroyed his two previous marriages. He is so competitive that the others use his name as a kind of expletive: "Bostick!"
Brad is a skilled birder who can identify nearly any species solely by sound. He hates his job maintaining the operational software of a nuclear power plant in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. Living with his parents after a failed marriage, an aborted career at Dell, and dropping out of grad school, he hopes that doing a Big Year will give him a sense of purpose and possibly even make his father proud of him.
Stu is the founder and CEO of an enormous Manhattan-based chemical conglomerate which he built from the ground up, starting in his garage. After decades of corporate success, he is ready to retire to Colorado with his architect wife. Fear of an empty schedule led him to come back from a previous retirement, but now he wants to leave his company in the hands of his two lieutenants (Kevin Pollak and Joel McHale). The company is in the middle of complicated negotiations to merge with a competitor, so his two anointed successors keep calling him back to New York for important meetings; to some extent he is a prisoner of his own success. A Big Year has been his lifelong dream and he's pursuing it with the full support of his wife.
The movie portrays various incidents that take place during the Big Year event, while the trio compete with each other and many other birders to achieve the world record of sighting the highest number of birds. Brad and Stu become friends and help each other in the competition, and Brad is attracted to a fellow birder, Ellie (Rashida Jones). Meanwhile, the highly competitive Bostick resorts to dirty tricks to boost his own count while undermining the others.
As the year draws to a close, Stu is happily retired and enjoying his newborn grandson; Brad develops a relationship with Ellie; and Bostick is alone, as his wife has left him. Stu and Brad, now close friends, congratulate each other on "a very big year", after each sighting 700+ bird species that year. When the Big Year results are published, Bostick won the competition with 755, a new record; Brad came in second; Stu was fourth. Brad opines that "he (Bostick) got more birds, but we got more everything," as he looks at Ellie, who has come for a weekend visit. Stu smiles, looking at his wife.
The film ends with Brad and Ellie birding together on a rocky coastline, while Brad confesses that birding is no longer the biggest part of his life. Stu is hiking with his toddler grandson (already enamored by birds) in the Rockies. Bostick is on a birding adventure in China, alone and gazing wistfully at a happy couple walking with their newborn child.
- Steve Martin as Stu Preissler
- Jack Black as Brad Harris
- Owen Wilson as Kenny Bostick
- Rashida Jones as Ellie
- Anjelica Huston as Annie Auklet
- Jim Parsons as Crane
- Rosamund Pike as Jessica Bostick
- JoBeth Williams as Edith Preissler
- Brian Dennehy as Raymond Harris
- Dianne Wiest as Brenda Harris
- Anthony Anderson as Bill Clemont
- Tim Blake Nelson as Phil
- Joel McHale as Barry Loomis
- Calum Worthy as Colin Debs
- Veena Sood as Nurse Katie
- Corbin Bernsen as Gil Gordon
- Stacey Scowley as Vicki
- Jesse Moss as Darren
- Kevin Pollak as Jim Gittelson
- Barry Shabaka Henley as Dr. Neil Kramer
- Andrew Wilson as Mike Shin
- Al Roker as New York Weatherman
- John Cleese as Historical Montage Narrator
- June Squibb as The Old Lady
- Steven Weber as Rick McIntire
The film received mixed reviews from critics. The Hollywood Reporter described it as a "genial, amusing and somewhat unfathomable" film; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called it a "gentle, light-hearted comedy" about "people trying to be the best, following their dreams and enjoying the wonder of birds". It holds a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 102 reviews, with an average rating of 5.08/10. The consensus reads: "Though made with care and affection for its characters, The Big Year plods along, rarely reaching any comedic heights." CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was a "B-" on an A+ to F scale.
The film was a box office failure, despite the established stars like Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson as the leads. Based on a budget of $41 million, it took in just $7.4 million in ticket sales worldwide according to Box Office Mojo.
|Minor Swing||Stéphane Grappelli and Jean Reinhardt||Django Reinhardt|
|(If I Had) A Sandwich With You||Dan DiPrima and Alex Marlowe||Zombie Bank|
|Wheel of Fortune Underscore||courtesy of Sony Pictures|
|The Devil Never Sleeps||Sam Beam||Iron & Wine|
|Pitkin County Turnaround||Steve Martin||Steve Martin|
|Let It Shine||Jeremy Fisher||Jeremy Fisher|
|I'll Have the Halibut||Dan DiPrima and Alex Marlowe||Zombie Bank|
|Away With Pie||Dan DiPrima and Alex Marlowe||Zombie Bank|
|The Dog's Decree - Concerto in C Major||Antonio Vivaldi||Alexandre Desplat|
|Viva la Vida||William Champion, Christopher Martin, Guy Berryman, & Jonathan Buckland||Coldplay|
|Come Fly Away||Jeremy Fisher and Jack Livesey||Jeremy Fisher|
|Surfin' Bird||Alfred Frazier, John Harris, Turner Wilson Jr., and Carl White||The Trashmen|
|Blackbird||John Lennon and Paul McCartney||Brad Mehldau|
|I Like Birds||E||Eels|
|Adeste Fideles||Traditional, Arranged by Virginia S. Davidson||New York Treble Singers|
|Silent Night||Franz Xaver Gruber, Joseph Mohr and John Freeman Young||Bing Crosby|
|This Could All Be Yours||Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, Brian Rosenworcel and Joe Pisapia||Guster|
|Auld Lang Syne||Traditional, Arranged by Guy Lombardo||Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians|
- "The Big Year (2011)". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Kaufman, Amy (October 13, 2011). "Movie Projector: New 'Footloose' could dance circles around rivals". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "The Big Year (2011) Box Office Mojo".
- "The Big Year (2011)". MovieWeb. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- "The Big Year - Movie Database". CraveOnline Media. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- "The Big Year (2011)". IMDb. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
- Scott, A. O. (October 13, 2011). "Movie review: 'The Big Year'". New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- McCarthy, Todd (October 12, 2011). "The Big Year: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "BCFC Film List". British Columbia Film Commission. October 2, 2011. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
- "Jack Black's Unscripted Fall Makes It Into Final Cut". January 12, 2012. Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
- Shalaway, Scott (October 30, 2011). "Get into nature: Birders love 'The Big Year'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "The Big Year (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
- McClintock, Pamela (October 14, 2011). "'Box Office Report: 'Footloose' Grosses $5.57 Million, On Course To Dance Away With The Weekend - The Hollywood Reporter". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1053810/soundtrack IMDB soundtrack reference