Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Big Year movie

      I saw the THE BIG YEAR movie this afternoon. I have mixed feelings about the movie. I liked most of the birding scenes especially those that are set on Attu. But I found the home life of the birders in the movie predictable. I could rant on about the birding mistakes made in the movie, but I'll just mention of a couple:
     1) The CGI birds. For the most part I found these birds unrealistic looking. This is especially true in the scene when the gulls attack birders on Attu. I don't know why Hollywood can't get birds quite right? Is it the feathers? I hope they do a better job of making realistic birds in the remake of Hitchcock's The Birds that's due out in 2013.
     2) The birdcalls the actors make in the film. I could barely recognize them! Birdcalling expert Nicolle Perretta did coach the actors, but she wrote to me: "I saw the movie on Friday, and I actually did coach Rashida [Jones, who played Jack Black's love interest]. They hired me and sent me up to Canada for a few days to work with her. The problem is, they did not get me involved in the post production process so I could check up on her bird calling. She sounded good when I was working with her, but it did not carry through once she was being filmed. She did her [Red-tailed] hawk and Audubon's [Oriole] ok, but the rest she should have redone. Actually they should have just dubbed in my calls. They also forgot to mention me in the credits, oh well."

     Another point I want to bring up about this movie. On various blogs and listservers I've been reading state how they hope this movie will help make birding more mainstream. I doubt that will happen. For one thing it bombed at the U.S. box office on its opening weekend: It came in ninth earning only $3.25 million, which means there WON'T be a THE BIG YEAR 2! Secondly in order to become more mainstream, birding needs something more attention grabbing then this movie. Action heros are always popular with teenagers (probably the main demographic in the movie business). How about a movie like THE BIRDMAN where mild-mannered ornithologist Bax Barton becomes The Birdman (the hard-hitting super hero). Or perhaps a very popular author writes a series of fictional books related to birding. J.K. Rowling comes to mind and it would help her with her "owlgate" problem. Otherwise I see birding remaining for: The Few, The Proud, The Birders!

RECOMMENDATION: Read the book and rent the movie.


  1. I think you missed the point. It's a comedy. For birders having the birds unreal and the vocalizations off-key would be hilarious. For non-birders they won't know the difference, but hopefully find the movie funny anyway. Think spoof, satire. I haven't seen the movie but really look forward to seeing it.

  2. HI:
    As for this movie being a comedy, there were a few chuckles here and there, but not what I would call a laugh riot! I think the actors were playing it safe, especially during the scenes set at home. The film had its moments, but not enough for me to recommend seeing it in the theater.