If you were to ask most comedians who their favorite comedians are, I would guess that Steve Martin would show up in the Top 10 for most of them.¬† There's no argument over his influence and skills.¬† But for some reason, he chooses horrible movies to do...at least in the last couple decades.¬† It doesn't make sense why the man that brought us The Jerk, The Three Amigos, Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Parenthood has also brough us Cheaper By the Dozen 1 and 2, Bringing Down the House, and¬†The Pink Panther remakes.¬† Now he has The Big Year.¬† So which pile will this be thrown on?¬† Can it be on both?¬†
The Big Year has a great premise: it's a pseudo true story about a real event called The Big Year which is competitive bird watching.¬† Yeah.¬† Competitive.¬† Besides Martin, it also stars Owen Wilson and Jack Black...two actors that were also really funny once upon a time and have perhaps run their course.¬†
A¬†film in the vein of Christopher Guest's classic Best in Show would have been amazing!¬† A comedy lampooning the existence and the people that participate in a bird watching competition sounds awesome!¬† Quickly it becomes apparent that that is not the direction they took.¬† I probably should¬†have seen that coming since it was directed by David Frankel, who did Marley & Me and The Devil Wears Prada.¬† He's very good at giving us comedies¬† that teeter back and forth between very funny and emotionally appealing.¬† The Big Year tries as hard as it can to be more like those films but sadly never does.¬†
See, when you enter into a Big Year, you are away from your family, your job, your life for a whole year.¬† You miss out¬†on an awful lot and the movie partially focuses on that.¬† It also focuses on the beauty of nature and the birds themselves.¬† If you're saying so far all¬†that doesn't sound very funny...you're right.¬† The movie isn't very funny; but that doesn't mean it's not good.¬† But it doesn't do a¬†quality job¬†at pulling you in any particular direction or making you feel a certain way.¬† It just kind of exists.¬† The characters don't¬†make you feel for them completely or even pick a favorite in the contest.¬† There are moments of great filmmaking but not enough to love the movie.
The good news is that none of these usually annoying comedic actors are annoying in the film.¬† They don't branch out into new territory or take any risks with character choices but you get what you'd expect minus some fark and dick jokes from Jack Black.¬† In fact, he gives one of the better performances in the movie since the relationship with his dad, played by Brian Dennehy (Romeo + Juliet) is some of the near tear-jerking you expierence in the film.¬† But overall to use the word "big" in the title of this film is false advertising.
The Big Year¬† (Rated PG)
Gavin Grade: C