The Big Year parents guide

The Big Year Parent Guide

Even if the movie doesn't increase binocular sales, "The Big Year" provides an entertaining reminder to all enthusiasts to not lose focus of the things that matter most in life.

Overall A-

Three nature enthusiasts (Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin) get themselves into quite a flap during an annual bird watching competition.

Release date October 14, 2011

Violence B+
Sexual Content B+
Profanity C
Substance Use B-

Why is The Big Year rated PG? The MPAA rated The Big Year PG for language and some sensuality.

Run Time: 101 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

One person’s hobby can be another’s obsession. Keeping passions in check, especially when competition is involved, proves to be a challenge for three men caught up in an American Birding Association annual bird count.

Starting on January 1, they, along with hundreds of other bird lovers, begin recording their sightings for the year. While some take pictures, the contest is based on the honor code and the rivalry can be fierce at times.

Stu Preissier(Steve Martin) is a highly successful business mogul who has been trying to retire for a long time so he can have a big year. (In birding terms, that is a competition where participants compete to see or hear the largest number of birds in a geographic region within a calendar year.) Thankfully Stu’s wife (JoBeth Williams) is supportive of his ambitions.

Brad Harris (Jack Black), at 36, has dropped out of grad school, given up a good job and been through a divorce. He wants to prove he is capable of completing something by having a big year. Brad’s mother (Dianne Wiest) agrees to be his travel agent, arranging for his flights for the next twelve months. But his father (Brian Dennehy) thinks his son is crazy.

Kenny (Owen Wilson), the reigning birding champion, can’t abide the thought of someone dethroning him. So although his current wife (there have been others) is undergoing fertility treatments to conceive, Kenny has a difficult time being present for his part in the process. And it goes without saying how his wife Jessica (Rosamund Pike) feels about being her husband’s second interest.

Following the theme of movies like The Bucket List and Eat, Pray, Love, these participants zero in on their own self-interests for an entire year. But the outcome at the end of the season is different for each of them. Some are better for it. Some are not.

But don’t dismiss this movie if the thought of spending weekends, holidays, vacation time, money and travel points counting birds doesn’t appeal to you. (It certainly doesn’t to me.) The story applies to any activity that grows from an interest, to a passion, to an outright addiction.

A peppering of mild profanities along with a rude hand gesture are the biggest content concerns parents will find with this film. A couple and medical personnel also discuss conception, yet for the most part it is very clinical and vague. At one point a man is briefly threatened with a knife because of his past bad behavior, and a couple of exhausted birders have a car accident after falling asleep at the wheel. Still, these depictions are minor in comparison to the overall message of the movie and the stunning scenes of cinematography.

Made with the involvement of the National Audubon Society, this comedic look at this avian avocation may spark some interest in the outdoor pastime. However even if the movie doesn’t result in an upswing in binocular sales, The Big Year provides an entertaining reminder to all enthusiasts—don’t lose focus of the things that matter most in life.

Directed by David Frankel . Starring Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Steve Martin. Running time: 101 minutes. Theatrical release October 14, 2011. Updated

The Big Year
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Big Year rated PG? The Big Year is rated PG by the MPAA for language and some sensuality.

Violence: Animal hunting practices are briefly discussed and old footage is shown of a bird hunt. The threat of nuclear plant fallout is discussed. Characters are involved in an accident after falling asleep at the wheel of their car. A man is threatened briefly with a knife. Some characters argue.

Sexual Content: A couple discusses fertility treatments. Later a woman attends a clinic for a medical procedure involving conception. A couple kisses and talks about sexual activity in a fairly veiled manner. A man suspects his wife of being unfaithful.

Language: The script includes over a dozen mild profanities, some terms of Deity, a couple of moderate swear words and a rude hand gesture.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink in several settings including home, parties and in restaurants or bars. A man makes a reference to illegal drugs. A woman injects herself with prescribed fertility hormones.

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More parents' guide for The Big Year after the break...

The Big Year Parents' Guide

Learn more about the National Audubon Society and their involvement with the filming of The Big Year.

How does Kenny define his self-worth in this story? Why is he so unwilling to let someone else beat him? Why is it remarkable that he abides by the honor system even when he wants to win so much? What do he and the other character sacrifice for the sake of their pastime?

What other examples can you think of where a person lets an interest become an obsession? How can a person keep their hobbies in check?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of The Big Year movie is January 31, 2012. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: The Big Year

Release Date: 31 January 2012

The Big Year releases to home video with the following bonus extras:

- The Big Migration

- Gag Reel

- Deleted Scenes:Roger Tory Peterson, Bird Behavior, Stu Late for Boat, Bird Puns with Brad & Ellie, Stu Gets Bostick’s Autograph, Longer Boat End, Dock, Pretzels & Skippy, Nozzle Theft and Other Newscasters, Longer Cars to HI, Cereal Rat with Talk, Lanky Birder Makes Time with Ellie, Stu’s Summer Montage with Fire Island Fauna, Bostick Returns Home, Long Pelagic and Bostick Goes to China.

Related home video titles:

The funny men featured in this film can also be seen in Night At The Museum (Owen Wilson), Nacho Libre (Jack Black) and Father of the Bride (Steve Martin). One man struggles to share his affections between his beloved Red Socks and his new girlfriend in Fever Pitch. A character plays exotic bird bingo in The Emperor’s New Groove.