Viewpoint: ‘Big Year’ ventures from usual path for comedy

Other PG movies from Jack Black

“Kung Fu Panda:”

“Kung Fu Panda” and its sequel, “Kung Fu Panda 2,” were both incredibly successful animated films from DreamWorks. In both movies Jack Black voices a panda with an important destiny. Both films posted high box office numbers and also helped to inspire a television show and a holiday special on NBC.

“Nacho Libre:”

Despite original expectations, “Nacho Libre” is now regarded as a bit of a misfire or, at best, a cult favorite, “Nacho Libre” stars Jack Black as a masked wrestler. There has been talk of a sequel from Jared Hess, director of this film who is probably more famous for his work on “Napoleon Dynamite,” but it seems unlikely.

“Shark Tale:”

Before he was famous for his work in Kung Fu Panda, Black voiced Lenny in “Shark Tale.”

Honorable Mention:

“School of Rock:”

Although “School of Rock” was rated PG-13, it’s still a PG movie at heart. The best way to describe the film is as a kids’ movie that adults can love.

By Rachel Ambelang

When I went home for fall break, the first thing my dad said to me was, “Jack Black is in a PG movie.” At first I laughed, thinking he meant “Kung Fu Panda,” but then my younger sister chimed in with, “You mean the one with Steve Martin.”

I had to look it up for myself to believe it, but to my amazement I found that the movie “The Big Year,” an adult-oriented comedy starring Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, is indeed rated PG.

The trailer gives the impression that the movie is about three friends taking a year off work to go and see the world and check off of their bucket list. However, “Big Year” is actually the name of a competition within the birding community.

Birding, for those who do no know, is a hobby that consists of traveling around to see different bird species. A “Big Year” is literally the span from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 in which birders try to see as many different bird species as they can, with the avian enthusiast who sees the most named the winner.

In “The Big Year,” Kenny Bostick (played by Owen Wilson) is the current Big Year record holder with an unheard-of 732 different species. He is famous within the birding community, but despite the fact that the members of the community all follow him around to see what bird he will find, everyone seems to be very cautious of him. People question if Bostick he cheated, having heard the great lengths he goes to deter other people from finding their own birds.

What isn’t public know is how many marriages Bostick has crumbled because he is constantly making sure no one is out to beat his record. In fact, he is in the midst of destroying another one.

Brad Harris (played by Jack Black) has decided to do his first Big Year despite his broken budget and father’s disapproval. Along the way he meets Stu Preissler (played by Steve Martin), who has retired as CEO of a major company in order to finally do his first Big Year. The film weaves the three characters’ back stories alongside the birding competition for the whole year.

If you are looking to see a comedy, do not go see this movie — the comedic elements are simply not the movie’s major strengths. However, if you are in the mood for a feel-good movie, I would definitely recommend “The Big Year.”

It is not what you would expect from this comedic trio. There are some honestly funny moments, but it is the not loud, in-your-face type of humor audiences are accustomed to from the three of them. The film also gives each actor a chance to shine in tragic and heartfelt moments, moments that sometimes are not found unless they are forced, in regular comedies.

I actually think that the three actors should be commended for trying something outside people’s expectations, and it was refreshing to see an adult comedy that was not filled with perverted humor.

“The Big Year” featured good performances and offered a new spin on birding. I am sure that there has never been a film about birding before that did not premiere on PBS or the National Geographic Channel. Overall, it was not the comedy that I expected to see, but it was still a decent movie.

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