TMG Scale 5.0 P Factor 0.0 MPAA Rating: PG
Starring Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Jack Black, JoBeth Williams, Rosamund Pike, Diane Wiest, Brian Dennehy, Kevin Pollak
An all star cast delivers a fairly bird brained movie. Slight amusing? Sure. A few laughs? Yes. But largely we are laughing at the dedicated (professional is a huge stretch) world of birding. These are people who could not play football, sing or debate in high school. Perhaps they had good ears and could whistle well? Who knows. Birding is a bit like stamp collecting, saw blade painting, or UFO chasing. Few people really do it. Few understand the allure, and some may find it just plain weird. Count TMG among the latter. Sorry. I am just being honest.
Wilson plays Kenny Bostick, the world record holder for spotting the most birds in one year. 732 to be exact. Brad Harris (Black) and Stu Preissler (Martin) decide to chase the record or what’s called “doing” a “Big Year.” We are taken on a whirlwind ride of beautiful landscapes and locales from Vail, Colorado to Attu Island, Alaska. We are treated to identifying birds ranging from the Great Spotted Woodpecker to the Snow Owl. We also get some great music thanks to the Trashman’s 1964 hit Bird Dance Beat — but the song had much greater impact in Full Metal Jacket (1987). Beyond that, this film just coasts along like a red tailed hawk. Cute and semi-interesting, but not much more.
TMG wonders if there really are 10,000 bird species out there? I mean, to us maybe. But what about to the birds? Some distinctions are clear, but are they really a unique species? We humans all look different, however, we do not distinguish and call one a “long legged blackman,” “a full-breasted redhead” or “yellow faced slant eye” or perhaps even a “lard-assed, bald whitey.” No. We simply find these to be distinguishing descriptors of the singular, human species. Funny to think animals might engage in “human spotting.” Maybe they do.
The only real positive in the film was seeing Brian Dennehy in a decent role as Jack Black’s dad. TMG says skip this film and maybe go out and watch a few birds yourself…or go shoot a few. I can attest that my buddy Steve makes an incredible, “full bellied Kansan pheasant” rice stew.