Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Movie Review: The Big Year

Me standing beside the poster for the Big Year. Photo taken by Aaron Balkwill on his Blackberry.

Opening line in the movie:
"This is based on a true story: Only the facts have been changed"

Tuesday night Aaron and I went to see The Big Year. For those who don't know the movie is based on the book by Mark Obmascik, which tells the story of 3 men who try to see as many species in North America during the year of 1998. It was a great year to compete in this challenge as it was an El Nino year with many birds being displaced across North America.

No trophy at the finish line, just the praise of holding the "Big Year" title in North America. In the movie you become "the best birder in the world".

If you are a birder, this is a pretty good movie, and is quite accuarate for what it is. Differences from the book includes the three men searching for something more than just birds, their own happiness in life. If it wasn't for this twist in the movie from the book I don't think anyone would go see it. If solely based on the book a documentary on TV would be more fitting, but with no Jack Black, no Owen Wilson, and no Steve Martin...just a fun true story with facts on birders, birds and birding....not fun...unless you are like me...I couldn't put the book down!

My husband Aaron who isn't a birder liked the movie but I know he still doesn't "get it". For instance, in the movie (like the book) they have the guys calling a number and getting messages of Code 5 non-birder would know what that means. There is also a scene of a fall out in Texas that is way over the top. They show birds coming in like a cloud with computerized birds all over the place. It reminds me of when Jeremy and I used to play Pokemon Snap at his house on his N64. It is a little misleading in that it gives the wrong impression of what a fall out actually is, but it has too or else people would be bored watching. What is nice is that during the movie, Jack Black gives a little bit of narrative to explain a few things that non birders would have no idea about. (the history of a big year, why go to Attu Island, how a fall out happens) If it wasn't for this, people seeing this would be...well...lost.

In the end, this is a good family movie. It is very light-hearted and the bird images they show are almost all bang on, which it better be considering they had birders help out with the accuracy during production.

As for the opening quote, it will leave people wondering how much of this is actually true. I guess if they were really interested they will read the book.

Another big question is, will the movie get lots of people into birding? The answer is no. Think about it.....It's just a movie, a movie that got 9th opening weekend at the box office. It may spark an interest in a few people, and that is great, but unless you are a birder it's just another movie because you like the actors, or because you were bored and had to get out of the house, or because the internet is down and there is nothing on satellite.....Nevermind going outdoors of course...

Marianne's rating:
Because I am a birder: 4 out of 5 stars
If I was a non birder: 3 out of 5 stars
The Original Book: 5 out of 5 stars...One of the best books I have ever read about birding!

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