The Big Year

The Big Year is the very definition of a gentle comedy. It could also be classified as unfunny, uneventful, unmemorable and occasionally irritating. It is hard to know how a film about bird-spotting was ever commissioned as it hardly seems the sort of material to excite studio bosses. There must have also been a point when the writers realised that their slow paced script with broad and shallow characterisation just wouldn’t be particularly interesting. Yet miraculously it kept getting the green light at each stage before assembling a pretty impressive cast (if you excuse the three leads).

Jack Black’s narration throughout is probably the most annoying thing about the film because, well, it’s Jack Black talking and that is always going to be annoying. His character, like the movie in general, is pared back from his usual roles which is rather welcome, even if it doesn’t make the film any more interesting. Sadly, Steve Martin is barely recognisable from the great comic actor of the ‘80s whilst Owen Wilson continues to sleepwalk through roles. The relationship between the three never gets out of first gear with flat and superficial exchanges that rarely try and explore the comic potential of the film’s set-up. Yet whilst it is devoid of any laughs whatsoever (even bad ones) the drama just isn’t interesting enough to sustain your interest. It is so light, with wafer thin characters, that there is no consequence and no real investment in their quest to break the big year record or their personal troubles.

The most exciting and inspiring sequence in the entire film features accompaniment by Coldplay - that should tell you everything you need to know about this middle of the road and soporific dud.