Wednesday, 29 January 2014 01:10

The Big Year - A Harmless Comedy with Caged Potential

Written by  Churchill Guevarra
    The Big Year - A Harmless Comedy with Caged Potential
    ‘The Big Year’ is a mild and offense-free comedy that though noticeably glossy and loaded with potential, still almost looks and feels like a nature documentary. That isn’t a bad thing really but if you have a film that boasts an impressive cast led by comedians Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson and features breathtaking landscapes and wildlife (mostly birds) that are always picture-ready, you’d be expecting more than a mediocre output.

    ‘The Big Year’ is a story about ‘Birding’, where ’birders’ (bird enthusiasts) dedicate their lives criss-crossing continental United States and Canada to see who can spot the most number of different bird species within a given 12-month period . Yes, it is a completion. And yes, it is cutthroat--well, at least that’s what the characters are trying to project here.

    Perhaps the film’s major blunder isn’t that the subject matter is esoteric—‘Birding’ isn’t a mainstream sport just yet—but because it didn’t have a real villain or even offered a marginally palpable tension. The dirtiest trick that the supposedly dirtiest player in this honor system-based sport has ever pulled out was a little misdirection courtesy of Kenny Bostnick (played by Owen Wilson), the birder to beat in this epic ‘birding’ competition. Even the subplots that featured the main characters’ supposedly life crises were less threatening and there was never a moment in the film that made me think that their personal issues would intervene with their ‘birding’ fanaticism.

    ‘The Big Year’ is PC’s (political correctness) dream movie. I did not recall any profanity, racial and sexual innuendo or any other offensive term being spouted by any character in this film. It’s that amiable. Then you have these amazing birds pictured against breathtaking sceneries and you got yourself a well-produced travelogue for all ages. Maybe that’s what Director David Frankel wanted to achieve here. Maybe he just wanted to make a feel-good movie that an entire family can watch and enjoy. And if that’s the case, then he succeeded.

    Having said that, the collective talents of Martin, Black and Wilson felt caged here. They were not really given an opportunity to soar or make the most out of what they had because of some unknown reasons. All I’m saying is that the whole thing felt like a squandered opportunity. But even so, ‘The Big Year’ is still a decent offering. It’s enjoyable and definitely a good movie to help pass the time especially on a cold, rainy night—3.5 out of 5 stars.