logo
g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Career
Computers
Education
Family
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
Money
News & Politics
Relationships
Religion & Spirituality
Sports
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

dailyclick
Bored? Games!
Nutrition
Postcards
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

new
Painting
Heart Disease
Horror Literature
Dating
Hiking & Backpacking
SF/Fantasy Books
Healthy Foods


dailyclick
All times in EST

Full Schedule
g
g Birding Site

BellaOnline's Birding Editor

g

The Big Year vs. The King's Speech

Guest Author - Kimberly Weiss

Finally, I got to see the first (and so far, only) birding movie “The Big Year.” Last fall, when the movie was in theaters, I missed my chance to see it on the big screen. It wasn’t my fault, though. After it didn’t do well on its opening weekend, the film was pulled from most theaters and quietly disappeared, seemingly overnight. In fact, some consider it one of the biggest flops of recent years.

As most low-achieving movies do, it turned up fairly quickly on video and pay-per-view. So finally, today, I got to see the movie all the birders were talking about.

First of all, it did not deserve to be one of the lowest grossing movies ever! Although it had a major flaw (which I’ll get to in a minute), it was overall a quality piece of work.

Birders especially will love this movie, if they didn’t already rush to see it in its brief release. The hobby of birding is portrayed positively, as a fun thing for normal people to do. Places that hardcore birders have been to or at least heard about (like the Aleutian Island of Attu) are shown, and there are some birding in-jokes. The crusty, female sea-captain named Auklet is based on a real female captain named Shearwater, for example.

Anyone wanting to see a family film will enjoy “The Big Year” as well. It is rated PG, but it is a soft PG.

Thematically, “The Big Year” treads much of the same ground as “The King’s Speech.” There is a confident older man who mentors a younger man badly in need of a friend. The villain in both movies is a shallow blonde guy with a bad attitude. But “The King’s Speech” succeeds because there is so much more at stake. If young, non-confident King George VI can’t win the love of his people on the brink of war, what would happen? Would they demand the blonde troublemaker Edward VIII back? Many British citizens didn’t want him to abdicate for “the woman he loved” Wallis Simpson. And if he came back, what would happen to Britain? Some historians think he was sympathetic to Germany. Would the course of the war be different?

In “The Big Year,” little is at stake, which gives the movie an overall lack of conflict. Helpful retiree Steve Martin helps divorced, depressed Jack Black travel the world in order to see more birds than snotty, blonde Owen Wilson. If they fail--well, nothing will really happen. Having the best “Big Year” gives a birder some notoriety within the hardcore birding circles, but there is little financial gain to be had.

I will not give away the ending, except to say that it wasn’t completely happy. Although “The Big Year” is based on a book by Mark Obamsik, many things were changed. The characters names were all changed. Jack Black’s character Brad was pretty similar to his real-life counterpart, Greg Miller, and Steve Martin’s Stu had much in common with his inspiration, Al Levantin. Owen Wilson, however, was based on a man named Sandy Komito, who was about 67 at the time of his big year. Wilson’s Kenny Bostick is a young man who is undergoing fertility treatments during the birding competition. All this is completely made up.

I don’t understand, then, why they didn’t give the film a more triumphant ending, or maybe throw in a more obvious incentive for these three men to give up everything to bird. This is the rare film that may have been improved by adding an evil real-estate developer or oil mogul.

The main problem, though, is that the film seems a little dated. The real big year of the three master birders was 1998. According to an interview given on NPR, it’s very unlikely that anyone will see 700 birds in a single year again. Not only was 1998 an El Nino year (and one of the warmest on record) it was a different era in times of travel. Our three heroes could walk right onto planes in their shoes, buy cheap tickets at a moment’s notice, and probably didn’t even need to show ID. It was a different time economically, as well. In these hard times, I could see why a movie about rich men pursuing an expensive hobby didn’t do well. But it’s a shame. Because, although the script had some problems, overall, it was a warm-hearted, likable little film.
This site needs an editor - click to learn more!

Add The+Big+Year+vs%2E+The+King%27s+Speech to Twitter Add The+Big+Year+vs%2E+The+King%27s+Speech to Facebook Add The+Big+Year+vs%2E+The+King%27s+Speech to MySpace Add The+Big+Year+vs%2E+The+King%27s+Speech to Del.icio.us Digg The+Big+Year+vs%2E+The+King%27s+Speech Add The+Big+Year+vs%2E+The+King%27s+Speech to Yahoo My Web Add The+Big+Year+vs%2E+The+King%27s+Speech to Google Bookmarks Add The+Big+Year+vs%2E+The+King%27s+Speech to Stumbleupon Add The+Big+Year+vs%2E+The+King%27s+Speech to Reddit




RSS | Related Articles | Editor's Picks Articles | Top Ten Articles | Previous Features | Site Map


For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Birding Newsletter


Past Issues


print
Printer Friendly
bookmark
Bookmark
tell friend
Tell a Friend
forum
Forum
email
Email Editor


Content copyright © 2013 by Kimberly Weiss. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Kimberly Weiss. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

g


g features
Attracting Hummingbirds

Archives | Site Map

forum
Forum
email
Contact

Past Issues
memberscenter


vote
Poetry
Daily
Weekly
Monthly
Less than Monthly



BellaOnline on Facebook
g


| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2013 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.


BellaOnline Editor