Published on January 30th, 2012 | by jlschlarmann0
The Big Year Availible on Blu-ray/DVD January 31st.
I am of an age where it’s entirely possible to hold Jack Black and Steve Martin in the same light, both having massive influence on my development into the “adult” that I am today. So when it came time to review “The Big Year,” the 21-year-old inside of me was thrilled at the chance of watching a film with both Jack and Steve in it…and then the movie started.
It’s a cute enough premise: a deep look into the world of competitive bird-watching. Yes, that wasn’t a joke in itself, the film’s plot is centered around a competition to spot the most number of different species in a year’s time, hence “The Big Year.” The big three stars of the film are each trying to pull off the feat of spotting more bird species than ever before, and they each have their own personal reasons for making the attempt. From that cute little premise though, this film just lands with a thud, mostly.
In addition to Black and Martin, the talents of Owen Wilson, Dianne Wiest and Angelica Huston are also on display in the film. What “The Big Year” does best is prove that no matter how talented the cast involved, if the story is milquetoast, there’s nothing that can be done to make it compelling.
The biggest sin this film commits is that it’s just forgettable. There simply isn’t enough to love or hate about this film to do much more than shrug it off. And when your film boasts the talents of three really great comedic actors, “forgettable” is not the result for which anyone should belooking.
All three stars deliver what they were cast to do. Black is Brad Harris, the slacker with a dream and an unforgiving father played by Brian Dennehy. Martin is Stu Preissler, the rich but lovable retiring CEO retiring to pursue a win. Wilson is Kenny Bostick, the top-dog in the bird watching world and holds the current record for most species spotted.
Yes, their paths cross. Yes there are antics that ensue. You could probably guess all that, and you’d be right, because the best word that can be used to describe “The Big Year” is “predictable.” 21-year-0ld James would be extremely displeased, since a film starring Jack Black and Steve Martin would surely have some great twists and turns, leaving the viewer in stitches, right? Wrong.
This is not to say the film doesn’t have its brighter spots. Rashida Jones as the posited love interest for Black was pleasant and believable. Huston as a sea-boat captain was also funny and reminds us that she is capable of playing comedic roles pitch-perfectly. However, when the supporting cast outshines the three comedically brilliant stars of a film, it cannot bode well, and, SPOILER ALERT: this film is no exception.
Sorry 21-year-old James, you’ll just have to wait for the next time Steve Martin and Jack Black appear in a film together.