A contest for birders

The Big Year 20th Century Fox Rating: PG 100 minutes

Not wishing to see yet another version of The Three Musketeers, your intrepid reviewer opted to see The Big Year instead.

Birding was once described as a mild paralysis of the central nervous system that can only be cured by rising before dawn and sitting in a wet bog. This reviewer admits to occasional serious bouts of birding but does not enjoy or suffer the pasttime as much as the characters in this movie.

Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson play real people who set out to count as many North American bird species as possible in a calendar year, known to birders as a big year. Wilson’s character holds the previous record (723 species) and Martin, a trying-to-retire business executive, and Black, a poor but enthusiastic birder, are trying to beat Wilson as he seeks to improve on his record.

Seeing all these birds involves a lot of travel and expense, and our heroes travel from Texas to a remote Alaskan island attempting to see every possible species. They also must try to keep up a personal life, something their birding obsession makes very difficult.

The Big Year is an enjoyable, humourous film, easy to take, but mostly of interest to birders. It also fails to capture the passion that rules the lives of these single-minded individuals, and really, is more about a search for happiness than rare birds. But it’s still probably better than more duelling musketeers.

Rating: three deer out of five

Next Week on Video

Water for Elephants is a pleasant film and more worth a look than Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.