Saturday, October 15, 2011

Random Observations on The Big Year Movie

First, and most importantly, I enjoyed it. Here are some observations:

  • Like Moneyball, another adapted screenplay currently in theaters, The Big Year suffers from the constraints of having to stuff the story into two hours. A lot of the fun and interest derived from being able to roll around in the details and history of birding (or baseball statistics) is lost when you have to rush a story out.
  • I'd like to see Owen Wilson's "sprint around with your binoculars held to your eyes" style in practice.
  • 10,000 Birds said they sent some products to the filmmakers in hopes that they'd appear in the movie. I didn't see anything from them...but there's a Two-Fisted Birdwatcher mug beside Jack Black's bed at one point.
  • No Pink-footed Goose records anywhere near Colorado, nor any Great Spotted Woodpecker records in the Pacific Northwest (other than AK).
  • There's very little in the movie about identification issues, which I think is what birding is mostly about. Birders in the movie raise their binoculars and see the bird, without any discussion of what differentiates one species for another or that it is that ability to differentiate - in addition to the difficulty of getting to the birds in the first place - that IS birding.
  • The soundtrack is made up of bird-related songs: a nice "Blackbird" cover, "Bird is the Word," and an old, nearly-forgotten favorite of mine from my pre-birding days, the Eels' "I Like Birds."
  • I have been to Al Levantin's home in Colorado, and I gotta say the movie captures it pretty well, right down to the remote-controlled gate.
  • Lots of great "that guy" actors: Brian Dennehy! That guy from The Big Bang Theory! Joel McHale! Kevin Pollack! Anthony Anderson! Dianne Wiest! Tim Blake Nelson! Steven Weber! Well done.
I'm glad I saw it, I'm glad it happened, and I'm glad I can get back to thinking about real life birds.


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