AmericanCatholic.org
 
Skip Navigation Links
Home
Catholic News
Seasonal
Saints
Special Reports
Movies
Social Media
Shopping
Donate
Share:
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus
LinkedIn
Email
RSS Feeds

advertisement
ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Big Year

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black star in a scene from the movie "The Big Year."
The warmhearted seriocomedy "The Big Year" (Fox 2000) takes its title from a real-life competition in which birdwatchers across the country vie to spot the greatest number of different species between one New Year's Day and the next.

Huh, who knew?

Taking up this challenge on screen, each for his own reasons, are wildly successful business tycoon Stu (Steve Martin), rudderless nuclear power plant worker Brad (Jack Black) and much-divorced home contractor Kenny (Owen Wilson).

To the ever-increasing exasperation of his current spouse Jessica (Rosamund Pike), obsessive Kenny is out to defend his seemingly insurmountable previous record. Brad, whose life is going nowhere, hopes victory in the contest will represent the first tangible achievement of his adulthood, while Stu wants to use his participation in the informal tournament as a stepping stone to his long-deferred retirement.

Stu benefits from the understanding attitude of wife Edith (JoBeth Williams). But Brad, who still lives with his parents (Dianne Wiest and Brian Dennehy), finds his gruff father as unimpressed by his current project as by any that have come—and, invariably, gone—before.

While Kenny holds aloof from his fellow birders, Stu and Brad bond, forming an unlikely friendship as well as an alliance intended to best their sometimes unscrupulous rival. All three competitors, however, are eventually forced to decide how much they are prepared to sacrifice in their pursuit of the ultimate avian accolade.

As each of the trio answers that question in his own way, director David Frankel's agreeable film—inspired by Mark Obmascik's book of the same name and scripted by Howard Franklin—affirms the primacy of family life and personal relationships over materialistic or ego-driven goals.

The humor proffered as the story unfolds is better calculated to produce chuckles than knee-slapping hysteria. But at least the screenplay never goes fishing for laughs in the gross-out gutter.

That's not to say that this generally cozy tale is entirely free of problematic elements.

One source of Jessica's annoyance with Kenny, for instance, is that she is avidly pursuing a fertility treatment that will eventually require his presence on a particular day. This subplot is dealt with too obliquely, though, for a medically untrained viewer to be able to determine whether, once present, he will be called upon to act in a morally acceptable manner or otherwise.

Late-reel developments also lead to scenes that could be interpreted as signaling that two characters have taken to living together. But the evidence offered by the dialogue—and by the domestic activities portrayed—is, in the end, inconclusive.

The film contains brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, possible cohabitation, a fertility treatment theme, adultery references, at least one use of profanity, an obscene gesture and a few crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



Search reviews at CatholicMovieReviews.org


Thank you for your comments. Editors will review all posts before they are visible on the website.

blog comments powered by Disqus






Fidelis of Sigmaringen: If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint's life. 
<p>Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Fidelis soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor. </p><p>As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers. </p><p>He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions. </p><p>He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed. </p><p>He was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which was established in 1622, recognized him as its first martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog Obedience means total surrender and wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. All the difficulties that come in our work are the result of disobedience.

 
PICKS OF THE WEEK
New from Richard Rohr!

Richard Rohr explores how to find God in the depths of silence.

Epic Food Fight
With humor and practical wit, Fr. Leo invites you to read, savor, and digest the truth of our faith in new and appetizing ways!
A Spiritual Banquet!

Whether you are new to cooking, highly experienced, or just enjoy good food, Table of Plenty invites you into experiencing meals as a sacred time.

Pope Francis!

Why did the pope choose the name Francis? Find out in this new book by Gina Loehr.

The Seven Last Words

By focusing on God's love for humanity expressed in the gift of Jesus, The Last Words of Jesus serves as a rich source of meditation throughout the year.


 
CATHOLIC GREETINGS
Easter Thursday
Jesus is calling each one of us to resurrection. How will you respond?
Easter Wednesday
May the Lord be with us as he was with the faithful on that first Easter.
Easter Tuesday
If you’re taking a break this week from work or school, keep in touch with a Catholic Greetings e-card.
Easter Monday
It’s not too late to send an Easter e-card to friends near and far. Let the celebration continue for 50 days!
Easter
Catholic Greetings and AmericanCatholic.org wish you a most holy and joyous Easter season!



Come find us at: Facebook | St. Anthony Messenger magazine Twitter | American Catholic YouTube | American Catholic