Reviewed by: Lydia Harman—first time reviewer
birds in the Bible
being ruled by obligations and responsibilities
following one’s dreams
competition / competitiveness
Review: Winged Migration (2003)
Learn more about God’s amazing creations in these excellent videos…
Tim Blake Nelson
Anjelica Huston … Debi Shearwater
|Director:||David Frankel—“The Devil Wears Prada,” “Marley and Me,” “Miami Rhapsody”|
|Producer:||Deuce Three Productions
Fox 2000 Pictures
|Distributor:||Fox 2000 Pictures|
“Everyone is searching for something.”
In a year when El Nino upsets the migratory path of a colossal number of birds, three obsessed birders set out on their own personal journeys to count as many ornithological species as they can in one calendar year. Thus, the title: ‘The Big Year.’ The far reaching excursions these birders take provide some beautiful scenery and glimpses of fascinating fowl. This trio of birders is as diverse as the species they are tracking. Thirty-something Brad Harris continues his full time employment, yet still remains in financial anguish chasing his feathered friends on weekends and personal days. Stu Preissler is a recently retired, self-made business man with the means to accomplish his flock following mission. Kenny Bostick is the highly competitive birdwatcher with an unsurpassed Best Year at the expense of a black book of divorced wives. He is the roadrunner everyone else is trying to decoy.
The main characters, portrayed by well-known comedians Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, experience drama in their personal lives during each of their focused year-long, bird finding pursuits. While Harris’ mother acts as his personal travel agent and cheerleader, his father scoffs at his son’s birding hobby. Meanwhile, Harris is flying solo as a recently divorced, college drop-out—of which his father readily reminds him. Stu’s wife is the epitome of support, along with his son and recent daughter-in-law, but his explorations are continually disturbed by the big deals his ineffectual staff are powerless to facilitate. Bostick has a new wife whose delicate ambition is to be a mother. Mrs. Bostick suffers countless hormone treatments, only to find that the stork her husband is absently pursuing has nothing to do with their potential progeny.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Due to its ornithological focus and Parental Guidance rating, this is not the movie teenagers are flocking to, leaving the main audience for “The Big Year,” adults in two categories: birdwatchers and comedy seekers. Some simple ways to dramatically broaden the viewership and encourage family outings to this movie, include removing all the derogatory language, having all the actors wear dignified clothing, and putting a thermometer in Mrs. Bostick’s mouth to show natural family planning efforts, rather than seeing an injection in her backside.
Dispensing with the unnecessary bathroom humor antics of Stu retching over the side of a boat, seeing a car encased in bird droppings, and Bostick’s subtle wave of his middle finger at a British birder who finds the American Big Year birding competition absurd. Violence is another issue that would need to be addressed to provide a safe viewing environment for families. Young children are easily shocked by car crashes, dramatic plane turbulence, and the slaughter of animals, even when they are fish and birds. Even the disjointed hurling of a toilet through a window during a house remodeling, though shocking, did not add value to the plot or provide the intended comedic effect.
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Though love was an apparent theme in the movie, much of it had a dysfunctional edge. Had the producers considered these words from Colossians, they could have created a movie with Biblical values that church going families would be glad to attend with their children. Sadly, this is the biggest reconstruction assignment needed to make this movie suitable for all audiences.
The birding trio initially mentioned, originally lied about their intentions to attempt a Big Year, in hopes to overtake each other’s Big Year tally. That differs greatly from what the book of Ephesians 4:25 has to say:
Bostick has a wife, but he is not attentive to her needs or their opportunity to build a family, but instead he focuses his attention on his obsession to maintain his 1st place position for a Big Year. Ephesians 5:28—In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
What the main characters do not anticipate is the intertwining of their own lives with each other, and the challenges that those relationships cultivate. In the end, there are winners, and there are losers, but by some twists of fate, it is not the culmination you might imagine.
Unfortunately, this movie has a conundrum. It is a family movie, but due to its worldly perspective, it is not appropriate for a family audience. Therefore, I would have to take it off my recommended family movie viewing list and hope that movie produces consider how their ratings could soar if they would just stop shelling out movies that are literally, “for the birds”!
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
“…Previews for ‘The Big Year’ might lead you to believe that the movie’s little more than a bird-brained farce—‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ with plumage. But even with its smattering of profanity and alcohol-infused scenes, it’s actually kinder and gentler than that. And it’s a great deal more redemptive as it wrestles with the importance of pursuing your dreams… and ponders the relational cost of doing so. …”
—Paul Asay, Plugged In
“…has an innocence and charm that will make it appealing for families, especially those who have had enough whales and dolphins for the year. …”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“…a sloppy and rather sweet human comedy aimed at parents, grandparents, nature-lovers, and other people ill-served by Hollywood. …”
—Ty Burr, The Boston Globe
“…it has barely enough pulse to power a hummingbird. …”
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
“…never truly takes flight… You’d have to really love birding as much as the guys here do to enjoy the strained buddy comedy ‘The Big Year’ to its fullest potential. …”
—Christy Lemire, Associated Press Movie Critic
“Seeking to capture the fan/collectors/enthusiast gene, ‘The Big Year’ uses Mark Obmascik’s book about obsessed ‘birders’ and transforms it into a genial if slow-moving, almost sleepy comedy. …delivers sweet and (more rarely) amusing moments…”
—Brian Lowry, Variety
“…Apart from a few reliably hilarious sight gags… the comedy of ‘The Big Year’ is gentle and low key. …poke[s] fun at the foibles of the birding tribe, but they avoid easy, mean caricatures. …”
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“…Very strong moral worldview with pro-family message that also extols good relationships between married couples and between children and their parents and a positive, heartwarming view of friendship, plus some pro-capitalist references and strong Christian, redemptive elements…”
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide