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The Big Year

  PG HD Closed Captioning

David Frankel

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Plot Summary

Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson form a comic dream team in this smart, funny comedy from the director of The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me. Looking to shake up their routine lives, three amateur bird watchers compete to become the ultimate “birder” by spotting the greatest number of species within a single calendar year. But the friendly rivalry soon turns into a hilariously complicated cross-country adventure as each man begins to realize that the quest for success comes at a price — and that’s not chicken feed!

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 102
  • Fresh: 41
  • Rotten: 61
  • Average Rating: 5.0/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Like birding itself, "The Big Year" rewards patience. It respects both the integrity and the eccentricity of the avian obsession, and it communicates something of the fascinating abundance and weirdness of the animals themselves. – A.O. Scott, New York Times, Oct 13, 2011

Rotten: Failing even to attempt genuinely humorous gags or scenarios, and incapable of conveying the thrill of its obsessive pastime or the majesty of the animals themselves, this feel-good male weepie remains comedically and dramatically grounded. – Nick Schager, Village Voice, Oct 17, 2011

Rotten: Unfortunately, these comic geniuses are kept caged by the wan script and direction. The best gag in the film is the opening title card; the best joke, a throwaway by a day player. – Richard Brody, New Yorker, Oct 17, 2011

Rotten: This movie stubbornly refuses to take flight, or generate more than a few chuckles. – Lou Lumenick, New York Post, Oct 14, 2011

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

This is not a Gag movie

When I first heard that this movie was in the making, I was suspicious of the cast. I'd read the book. I knew making a joke movie would be horrible. Still I was quick to see it in the movie theater and it was lovely. Forget that the big names are all comedians. They are actors, and do a good job telling a story about real people. If you've ever looked at the birds out the windows, you'll enjoy this. If you've gone the extra mile and bought a bird-book and a pair of binoculars, you'll love it. I can't imagine that the people who never look away from the computer screen or the TV will get it, but that's their loss. I've pre-ordered because I love it, and will want to see it again.

A Great Movie

I saw this with my family, not knowing what it was even about, so i was skeptical to go in the first place. But this movie has an all star cast and it definitely does deliver. I really have no idea why this got such bad reviews. It wasn't really a comedy in the first place, more like a feel-good movie. I recommend to rent it or even buy it (which i will) because this is one of my favorite movies of the year.


Do not go off of the Rotten Tomatos or critics. Just see this film for yourself, please.

Whoever was in charge of marketing completely and totally dropped the ball, and I hope they were held accountable for it. I feel so bad for Martin, Black, and Wilson. This was NOT a bad film, but I 100% believed that it was before I ever saw it. Even the POSTER made it look stupid and possibly annoying. I cannot tell you how bored and desperate I was when I finally rented this on iTunes. And I cannot tell you how surprised I was, and then upset because this film was never even given a fair chance.

If this was an independent film and marketed as off-beat, one in between a drama and comedy, it would have done a lot better. Because that's what it is. It has humor in it, but only because of how honest it is. I mean, let's be truthful: bird watchers are kind of weird to the general public. To be THAT into bird watching is naturally a little amusing. But the film is so honest and heart-felt, that it never feels condescending. Yes, there are some missteps, a couple of moments that felt like they were forced by the studio to make it "funnier" (the sea-sickness, for example). But they don't fit in well with the rest of the movie, they feel out of place, and so because of that they are easier to forgive. This movie is not about slapstick.

Someone gave up on this movie before it even got off the ground. Someone decided that it had to be marketed as one thing, when it was something else. What is weird is, I cannot tell if that's because they thought it would help it or hurt it. It's pretty well-known that Martin's recent films have been that kind of slapstick and cheap humor, and they haven't worked. They have bombed. THAT is how this movie was marketed, as the same type of movie. But it's not. I have a hard time even calling it a "comedy," because of what others will be expecting when they hear that word and see Martin in the credits. I'd rather just call it a family film. I haven't felt this emotionally connected to Martin since Father of the Bride. Maybe having a sweet film like this, but staring people like Wilson and Black, threw them off and they didn't think it would sell. So they went the slapstick route and hoped that the niche market for it would bite. That's just my guess. But it was a mistake.

Basically, give this movie a chance. I didn't when I should have, and I feel pretty bad about it now.

The Big Year
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  • $14.99
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Released: 2011

Customer Ratings