The Big Year

Rated 3.0

A half-serious comedy about three obsessively competitive bird-watchers amusingly played by Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin. Each of the three travels widely in pursuit of a “Big Year”—actual sightings of 700-plus species—while also navigating the domestic and financial dilemmas in their respective personal lives and the treacherous rivalries within their very specialized competitive realm. Kenny Bostick (Wilson) is a genial weasel more devoted to birding than to his recklessly neglected wife. Brad Harris (Black) is a charmingly clumsy oaf who is divorced and still trying desperately to please his aging parents. Stu Preissler (Martin) is a hugely successful CEO whose attempts to exchange corporate life for bird-watching and retirement get bemused support from his heroically tolerant wife. The story dabbles in topical issues—money madness and a workaholic society, male competitiveness, mid-life crises, etc. But the film’s chief appeals reside in its most obvious elements—the three stars cavorting with their respective movie personas; the occasional (and sometimes spectacular) close-up glimpses of exotic birds and the fitful and far-flung bits of scenic travelogue. Cinemark 14. Rated PG J.C.S.