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Sentimentality ruins The Big Year 

Heavy-handed life lessons spoil the comedy fun

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Pick a hobby---from watching Star Trek to knitting---take it to the extreme, and it’s ripe with comedic potential (think of Christopher Guest’s dog show “mockumentary” Best in Show). But director David Frankel (Marley and Me) gets lost in sentimentality en route to comedy land. Funny guys Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black are birders (bird-watchers) all vying to sight the most bird species across North America in one year, an esteemed title amongst their ilk. It’s not a hobby, it’s a “calling,” and Wilson, Martin and Black all have their respective moral dilemmas to solve: make a baby with wife, Rosamond Pike, or go birding; head a company, or go birding; stay home to appease your parents, or go birding. Maybe we could just return to good old-fashioned poking fun at people, and leave the life-lessons out of it.

The Big Year
Rated PG (MPAA) · 100 min. · 2011
Official Site: www.thebigyearmovie.com
Director: David Frankel
Writer: Howard Franklin and Mark Obmascik
Producer: Stuart Cornfeld, Carol Fenelon and Curtis Hanson
Cast: Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Rashida Jones, Rosamund Pike, Kevin Pollak, Anjelica Huston, Dianne Wiest and JoBeth Williams

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