The Big Year

Theatrical Release: October 14, 2011
The Big Year


Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson are at a crossroads — one is experiencing a mid-life crisis, another a late-life crisis, and the third, a far from ordinary no-life crisis. From David Frankel, the director of The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me, comes a sophisticated comedy about three friendly rivals who, tired of being ruled by obligations and responsibilities, dedicate a year of their lives to following their dreams. Their big year takes them on a cross-country journey of wild and life-changing adventures

Dove Review

This movie is, for all intents and purposes, a morality tale. It’s too bad the content in the language department crosses our acceptable level because it is a charming movie in various ways. It features three men who want to win “The Big Year”, the highest total points for either seeing or hearing rare birds from all across the United States and as far away as Alaska, and all this in one year’s time.

Brad Harris (Jack Black) is a thirty-six-year-old divorced man who hates his job and who doesn’t get along with his father (Brian Dennehy). His dad believes Brad is wasting his time running after birds but after having a close call, his father sees things differently and the two of them get closer together by film’s end. This is one of the nice themes of the film. Brad is lonely but meets a fellow bird watcher named Ellie (Rashida Jones). She has a boyfriend but will the obvious chemistry she has with Brad change all that? The film features a few humorous moments such as when Brad, trembling with fear after getting out of a helicopter which almost struck a mountain side, gets on his knees and kisses the ground and states he is so happy to be alive.

Brad becomes friends with Stu Preissler (Steve Martin), who wants to retire and win the Big Year. Yet the birth of his new grandson, who is named after him, and the fact he misses his wife when he travels, makes him start rethinking his priorities. Owen Wilson plays Kenny Bostick, the year’s previous winner. Kenny wants to shatter his own point’s record but unfortunately begins to neglect his wife. His wife Jessica (Rosamund Pike) is desperate to become a mother and is taking fertility treatments. At one point near the end of the film Kenny races to the hospital door to visit her but receives a phone call that a rare species bird, one which almost certainly will guarantee his victory, is a distance away. Kenny has to decide if he will walk through the hospital door or board a plane to go see the rare bird. We won’t give it away but it is interesting the way the year ends and who ends up with what.

The themes of this movie include making family a priority and finding happiness in ways which might have been unexpected. Unfortunately, the language sinks this one and prevents us from awarding our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal to it.

Content Description

Sex: A husband and wife kiss; wife is clothed and so is husband and she straddles him on bed; an innuendo; wife tells suspicious husband she hasn't slept with a certain man (she didn't).
Language: GD-1; G/OMG-3 (One "God dang it"); A-4; Crap-1; H-8; D-4; Butt-2; Geez-1; PO-1; SOB (Initials)-3; SOB-1; "idiot"-1 (A few people call themselves an idiot too); S-1; "Freaking birds"-1
Violence: Footage of a bird shot in the air and it falls; a man falls while skiing; a father and son argue; a man falls off a large rock but is okay in a scene meant to be funny; a woman holds a knife on a man as she is a tour guide and they disagree and the scene is apparently supposed to be humorous; a man falls asleep at the wheel and winds up hitting a tree but he and a friend are okay; a remodeler whips an old toilet through a window; a man falls into snow; a plane goes through terrible shaking and turbulence and a woman screams; a man is bumped by a rushing crowd; a helicopter carrying passengers almost strikes a mountain side.
Drugs: Toasts including champagne at New Year's; drinking in a few scenes including beer and a few bar scenes; a woman drinks wine; a woman shoots hormones into her own hip with a needle; an "I bought you drinks" comment; a comment about bird bait being "like crack cocaine to birds";
Nudity: Cleavage; a woman's hip is seen as she gives herself a shot; shirtless man.
Other: A man mentions the word "puke" a few times and a man does vomit over the side of a boat; a couple of characters lie but admit it later although one or two characters don't admit lying; a character gets into deep credit debt to keep traveling including maxing out a $6,000 credit card his mother gives him; a rat is seen running around a room and a man is frightened.


Company: 20th Century Fox
Writer: Howard Franklin & Mark Obmascik
Director: David Frankel
Producer: Stuart Cornfeld
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 90 min.
Industry Rating: PG
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter