On-Flight Entertainment: The Big Year, 2011

The Big Year, David Frankel (2011) [100 minutes]

Hey there, guys! I have been traveling so much this summer. Whether it’s bus, car, plane, zeppelin, or whatever I have had a crazy but completely awesome time! That’s why it has been so quiet on here the last few weeks, but now that will be rectified.

I have seen a incredible amount of horrible movies on planes (most of them involving Jennifer Anniston or some wannabe, I’m not sure which is worse). So, when I put on my headphones on the airplane I was preparing for the worst. I had never heard of this movie they were showing, The Big Year, and I went into it rather begrudgingly. I was pleasantly surprised.

The Big Year is a movie about an annual birding competition, in which birders, or bird watchers, have one year to travel across the United States and see as many species of birds as possible. The film takes place over a year. These men, pictured above, compete for the title of best birder. The plot, I’ll admit, sounds a little silly. I knew nothing about birding. I mean, I had no idea a competition like that even existed! But I found it all really interesting. I acquired some interesting knowledge that I’ll probably never use again, but you never know. 😛

The birding competition makes the movie more interesting and unique, but this is really a story about three men. Owen Wilson plays the reigning champion of birding. He is an antagonist of sorts, but the film really succeeds in humanizing him. He is the best of the best, but we see the price he pays to keep that up. Steve Martin is a very successful business man who only wants to retire and enjoy a big year before it’s too late. He struggles with leaving behind his job and his family, fearing he is too old for this dream. Jack Black plays our hero. A man who is really down on his luck, he has failed at most everything in life. Birding is what he’s great at and what he really wants to do. He struggles immensely throughout the film, but never gives up. Honestly, I found the portrayals of these characters refreshing. They are not unfamiliar tropes, but the way they are approached is without any sort of prejudice. The film does not judge any of its characters. Their faults and strengths are laid out for the viewer to see, without glorifying or degrading anyone in the process.

By the stars in the film you would think that this movie is sidesplittingly hilarious, but that isn’t case. It is funny, don’t get me wrong, but that isn’t the point. It’s really a feel-good, inspirational and simply adorable film. It probably won’t change your life (I mean who knows maybe you’ll want to take up birding), but it is a very way enjoyable to spend 100 minutes.

Hey! I Know That Guy: There are many little cameos throughout the movie. I always like seeing people randomly pop up out of their usual context.

Low Scores:  This movie has surprisingly low scores from critics. I was not expecting 10/10, but it is really judged way too harshly. I think most of the problem lies with people going in a expecting a comedy à la The Hangover. It is most certainly not that.

How to Watch: However you like! It’s a great film to just play one night that you are needing a cute, feel-good movie.

Who to Watch With: Anyone really can watch this. If you know someone who is a nature enthusiast or loves birds, then obviously it’s is perfect for them.

Final Verdict: I am not going to list this amongst my top films of all time, but I really found it such a lovely experience. It just felt so sincere and unpretentious. The actors do a wonderful job and the scenery is lovely. The Big Year is completely different than the movies I usually write about, its not old, foreign or too odd or out there. I wanted to review it because I really think you guys will like it. I mean I really enjoyed it, so please give it a shot!


Now, watch it and let me know what you think! :D 


  1. After watching several Jennifer Anniston and Anniston Wannabees’ films, I can certainly see why this film was a breath of fresh air! I watched it recently after one of my co-workers at Dish was reading the book, and recommended that I check out the film to understand bird watching. I added it to my Blockbuster @Home queue, and it arrived shortly in my mailbox only a couple of day later. My kids loved it, I loved it, and even Mom and Dad enjoyed it. It’s certainly safe for all audiences, and the moral of the story is a good one to learn. Good review; you always do fine work!

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