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Brad Harris (Jack Black), a computer programmer wants to do something in his life instead of just lying around all day eating pretzels in his parent’s home. So, he decides to try his hand at a bird watching competition called “the big year,” because of his remarkable skill of being able to recognize any bird by its sound alone. Stu (Steve Martin), a rich CEO who tried many times, though unsuccessfully, to retire, is also competing in the big year, but both are met with a formidable competitor, Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson), the world record holder for the big year, who is competing again in the big year to make sure nobody challenges his record. Bostick is so obsessed with keeping his championship that to him it is an even higher priority than his wife, who is trying hard to start a family. In the big year, birdwatchers around the nation compete for a year to see how many species of birds they can spot. For some, like Bostick, this sport has become an obsession. In a fateful event, Brad and Stu meet each other and decide to team up to try and beat the seasoned birdwatcher Bostick.
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This film is very funny and at the same time interesting. I couldn’t stop laughing when Bostick is eating at a Chinese restaurant on a Christmas Eve, and he asks the waiters about the species of birds that live in China, and the waiter replies, “Peking Duck.” In addition, this film is bursting with humor, drama, and wit. It is suspenseful, has a lot of heart, and a great twist at the end. It will have you at the edge of your seat and guessing what will happen next.
The film is about family, friendship, and life’s obsessions. The characters are well developed and fascinating. The acting is right on. You can tell easily that Bostick is obsessed with bird watching because he allows nothing to stand between him and his record. Brad is sometimes lazy, but when he has willpower, he does very well at whatever he wants to accomplish. At the end, all the characters learned something important about life that they didn’t know before.
The film had few flaws, and they were pretty minor, like the fact that it is not very realistic that all 3 men would be at the same place, on the same day, at the same exact time so many times during a year. I give it 4 out of 5 starfish, and my mom agreed that it is one of the best films this year! Mom thinks “The Big Year” will probably get an Oscar nomination.
I recommend this film to ages 13 and above because of some mild adult content and references, but overall this film is “Perrific!”, and I highly recommend it, not only to bird and nature lovers, but anyone who cares about family and loves life should rush to the theater to see this film with their loved ones! Make sure you stay for the end credits to watch the 700 plus amazing species of birds. What a treat!
Moral: A journey of change brings great wisdom.
Watch trailers: http://www.thebigyearmovie.com/
Perry Chen and Zhu Shen are Carmel Valley San Diego community residents and are a unique son-mother team of talent and aspirations. Perry Chen is the youngest award-winning film/ entertainment critic & animator, artist, speaker, and entertainment personality. He started writing movie reviews at 8 using a kid-friendly starfish rating system, under the guidance of his mom Dr. Zhu Shen and his 3rd grade teacher Ms. Harris. Perry’s debut on the CBS Evening News in 2009 made him a national sensation. He has been featured extensively on local, national, and international media, including NPR, Fox, CNN, NBC, The Guardian, The China Press, and many more. He has interviewed prominent filmmakers at film festivals, red carpet premieres, and press junkets. He won a prestigious “Excellence in Journalism Award” at the San Diego Press Club in 2010 as its youngest member. Perry currently writes movie reviews for the Animation World Network, San Diego Union Tribune, Amazing Kids! Magazine, and his own Perry’s Previews website with a combined readership of over 2 million worldwide.
Dr. Zhu Shen’s love for the movies started when she was a young girl, growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution where watching movies was the only entertainment available to the masses. Her journey to become a filmmaker took a convoluted path. She studied medicine at Peking Union Medical College before coming to the US and earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of Colorado, and then an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson School. She is a producer of the upcoming documentary feature “Average Joe on the Raw,” about journey into raw food and health. Dr. Shen is also an award-winning biotech executive, author, speaker, China business expert featured on national and trade media including CBS, Fox, Business Week, Pharmaceutical Executive, and more. She has worked at IBM, Bayer, Chiron, Immusol, and is the CEO of BioForesight, consulting on cross-Pacific life science business. *Photos of Perry Chen and Zhu Shen by Brian Bostrom