The Big Year

 (3,496)6.21 h 40 min2011X-RayPG
HD. Life goes to the birds--literally--for obsessed avian enthusiasts Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson in this comedy.
David Frankel
Jack BlackSteve MartinOwen Wilson
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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Supporting actors
Brian DennehyAnjelica HustonRashida JonesRosamund PikeDianne WiestJoBeth Williams
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

3496 global ratings

  1. 71% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 15% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 8% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Tony IovinoReviewed in the United States on September 9, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Made me a birder
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Just watched The Big Year, starring Jack Black, Steve Martin & Owen Wilson, again, for maybe the 80th time.

Five years ago this month I watched it for the first time. And it changed my life. Sounds funny to say that about a movie. But it did.

It made me a birder.

Yes, I know that it is a strange, nerdy thing to be. But I was reflecting on what I’ve seen over the past five years:

I’ve seen albatrosses 40 miles off the coast of Northern California
Flycatchers at sewage treatment plants in Austin, Texas
Snowy Owls in Wisconsin and at Jones Beach
A Bald Eagle and I spent 20 minutes together, alone, in a frozen Minnesota field—he high up on a tree, me down below mesmerized
I watched American Oystercatchers burying their bright red beaks in a sand bar off the coast of Cape May
I’ve stood in a field outside Utica, NY, wholly alone at dawn, watching Barn Swallows dance in the early morning sunlight
I’ve hiked around a spider-infested path on High Island, Texas, watching tropical Cormorants in bright green scum covered water, dodging spiders larger than my hand, on the lookout for snakes and alligators
I’ve been on ferries, spying seabirds
I’ve clung to the granite sides of an overpass, sliding my feet across an ice-covered 8-inch wide ledge, 100 feet over a reservoir in Minnesota, so I could see an owl
I’ve spent a day on a wildlife refuge in Kansas, and I’ve spent a morning next to a fog-covered lake in Arkansas
I’ve watched hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes take flight at sunrise along the Platte River in Nebraska
I’ve birded across the country, in over 30 states.
And, I’ve spent time enjoy House Finches and House Sparrows play in my backyard, and Northern Cardinals in the snow on my patio.

I’ve met a bunch of quirky, kind, friendly people who share this obsession. I can’t imagine I would have ever hiked a mountain in Nevada as the snow fell, an hour after I played with a Greater Roadrunner in the desert, or wandered down a quiet road next to a farm outside of Buffalo, if it weren’t for birding.

I’ve seen more of America in the last 5 years than I did in a lifetime before that.

And I couldn’t have done it without 2 things: the patience and support of my wife, who never fails encourage me.

And the movie, The Big Year.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, if follows the true story of 3 guys trying to see the greatest number of different bird species in North America in a year. The story is funny, and touching. The photography is outstanding. It inspired me to get off the couch and go for a little hike in the Rockville Centre woods, where I saw my first woodpecker. I was hooked.

So as I mark my five-year anniversary as a birder, I say thank you to those who fight to preserve habitat for birds, thank you to the people who organized the festivals I’ve attended, thank you to the kind, patient experienced birders who have helped me along. Thank you to my wife.

And thank you Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and all who made “The Big Year”. I hope you made some money. I hope you had fun making the movie. And I hope you know that your little comedy has changed at least one life for the better.
174 people found this helpful
ShellReviewed in the United States on November 25, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Don't miss out on a great movie!
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Wow...seriously wow! Such a great movie! I just came across this as a recommendation on this site. I had it on my watch list for a while, hemming and hawing about actually watching it. Honestly, by the description, it didn't sound like it would be that great. I kept it on there for all three main stars. I mean, those guys? They're all quite funny as well as good at being serious.
One night, the boyfriend and I were wanting to watch a movie. I showed him the trailer for this, and he said let's try it. We were both so blown away! We agreed it was one of the best movies we've seen in a long time.
What's so refreshing about it for sure is that it's a really great movie that doesn't need any nudity, graphic violence (honestly, not sure if there was any violence at all), or foul language to be great! That's amazing to have a movie now days like that. (not that I'm a prude or anything. Just always still impressed when a movie can show it can still be done). So, that being said, it's a great movie for anyone, young or old. It's a great family movie, date night movie, well...anytime movie. Who would have thought a movie centering around birding, huh? Please don't let that stop you from watching this gem! It is far from boring. The boyfriend and I were both surprised at how much suspense was in it and how it really got us both. A few surprises for sure. Also, many funny scenes as well as touching life lessons. One of them learns a pretty hard lesson for sure.
Such a shame this didn't get a better chance at the box office.
43 people found this helpful
David E. BaldwinReviewed in the United States on December 10, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
This Birding Film Soars
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Prior to this film my knowledge of birding consisted of Miss Hathaway and her bird watching club on "The Beverly Hillbillies". After watching this charming film I've developed a knew found respect for the fanciers of our fine feathered friends. The film concerns three guys who take a year off from life as we know it, more or less, to partake in a Big Year which is a competition among birders to spot and photograph the most species of aviary. Jack Black's character is a thirtysomething divorcee stuck in a dead end job whose dream is to partake in a Big Year. Ditto for Steve Martin's high powered New York CEO who wants a Big Year before retiring to his family and grandchildren. Owen Wilson's character's quest is more obsessive, however. He's a professional birder out to protect his world record even at the cost of jeopardizing his marriage. All three actors are in fine agreeable form here with complex nuanced turns all. The fine work of the relatively numerous supporting cast is effective as well. It's always good to see Brian Dennehy and Angelica Huston in top form. Loved John Cleese's engagingly tongue-in-cheek narration of the film. This one barely caused a ripple upon initial release in the Fall of 2011 probably a case of the studio not knowing how to market such an iconoclastic project. Those bemoaning the dearth of quality films should look no further than this wonderful film.
16 people found this helpful
Jason W.Reviewed in the United States on June 21, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fun movie, nice to see these guys in non-slap stick comedy!
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This was a really enjoyable movie, and I loved having the actors in more serious roles than they're type casting typicals! The story is more of one for people who already have some interest in the birding hobby, and is not the fastest pace movie but the story is well laid out and the characters are well built.

The extended edition didn't really add anything to the show though, so unless you want to see some CGI hummingbird, and John Cleese's voice over, then stick with the original. Jack Black's story telling makes the story feel more personable and builds the characters better.
4 people found this helpful
Karl ScottReviewed in the United States on July 14, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
Look. Up in the sky. It's a bird.
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The Big Year / Rated PG for naked birds everywhere.
Every now and then filmmakers find themselves in a dilemma about marketing their film, especially with an arcane subject. What they try to do is sell what they think the general public wants to see but is not the film they made. The previews for The Big Year seem to be selling a lame, pratfall filled comedy of manly competition. One scene from the preview is not even in the movie.
The arcane subject of TBY is bird watching. The three stars of TBY are Jack Black as a 36 year old hard working but obsessed birder (and the films narrator). Steve Martin plays the older birder trying to retire from his mega billion dollar company so he can spend more time looking through binoculars. Owen Wilson plays the World Champion Birder with a one year record of 733 sightings. I am pretty sure I’ve seen at least four, but wouldn’t swear to it. I know that most of them can fly and many are very tasty. SM and JB decide they want to have a Big Year and break the OW record. He decides not to let them.
Traveling is a must for Birders and they do. While filmed in Atlanta, Miami and Canada, the location subtitles indicate a much wider range of locales. The guys will do anything to spot a new species. Skipping meals, ignoring family and even passing up a Super Bowl is not beyond their desire to spot the most birds.
Adding to the story are vet actors Brian Dennehy, Dianne Wiest, JoBeth Williams and Anjelica Huston. Theodore Shapiro adds a big score which is the right touch of adventure to the big outdoors on display.
While the previews misrepresent this film in an effort to sell it to us, what they really need is word of mouth. I, for one, am here to open mine and tell you this is a neat film. The humor is appropriately low key for the true message about obsession, sacrifice, friendship and relationships. If you want to be a champion birder, you’ll learn from the films three main characters what they were willing to give up and what they learn from their Big Year. I learned a lot about birds. My next visit to KFC will be much different than my last one. The main thing this film has are great performances by the lead actors. By films end I really liked and admired all of them.
Back in 2000 I went to a film with low expectations but it
turned out to be a big surprise. Minnie Driver starred in the Bonnie Hunt movie Return to Me. It was beautifully written, funny and wonderfully human. The Big Year is the same experience except with feathers.
Rated 3.5 out of 4.0 Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers. Maybe they had Blue Bellies. Maybe not. They flew away in a big hurry.
18 people found this helpful
Todd M.Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
It was much better than we expected.
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Put together a good cast, tone down Owen Wilson, kept the script tight and a movie about birding can actually be interesting and even funny at times. We hedged on this one until the last day of our HBO subscription and it turned out to be one of the better movies we’ve seen in some time. It was light, moved along nicely, the narration was helpful and even the birds were interesting. It’s hard to believe what some will do to get a glimpse of a bird and try to see the most in a given year just to be number one… and it’s based on a true story.
One person found this helpful
Robbi HessReviewed in the United States on September 26, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
My Go To Movie
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This is a movie that I can't really put my finger on why I love it so much, but I do. I watch it about once a month and at the end I still have that "sigh" of satisfaction. I am not normally a Jack Black fan, but he was so endearing and earnest in this movie that I fell a little in love with him. I was fascinated at the premise of the bird counting and at the relationships between the characters. It is a feel good movie even though there are parts that made me angry -- BUT Owen Wilson's character gets what's coming to him at the end so karma was at play. The Big Year is a feel good movie that anyone in the family can enjoy. I just loved it.
3 people found this helpful
adventurebabblerReviewed in the United States on August 22, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great family movie!
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My family loves this movie! We stumbled upon it on accident and when it was over all of us where like "We need to buy this movie". So we did, three times now lol It is also a movie we NEVER lend out, as you can guess from how many times we have had to purchase it we don't have great success getting it back (I'd like to think it's because the movie is so wonderful and not because our friends are thoughtless jerks LOL)
A little perk of this movie: both my kids became fascinated by birds and spend more time watching the birds in our area and trying to guess what kind of bird it is. Great family movie, with no 'close your eyes' moments for parents to watch out for.
10 people found this helpful
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