This weekend is Evan’s Christmas program at church, and my parents are coming down to take it in. Since Evan and I will be around Grandpa Rick, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to have a birding movie night. What do birders watch on movie night? The Big Year.
Maybe you’ve never heard of it. After all, it is full of lesser-known actors such as Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson. But if you have heard of it, you know why the three of us need to watch this together. The Big Year is a story about three different birders who are trying to complete a “big year” and become Birder of the Year. In the birding world, a “big year” is where you try to sight as many bird species as you can in a single calendar year. The movie portrays this sub-culture as quite competitive as these birders race the clock traversing the country trying to get the most birds on their lists. This along with all the footage of bird species makes it a compelling movie for us to watch, but the human story is just as intriguing. Steve Martin plays a corporate executive who breaks free from that world to do his big year. Owen Wilson’s character is basically a professional birder who is trying to defend his title of Birder of the Year. Jack Black plays an office worker who is going nowhere in life but has a passion for birding. As all three embark on this quest to become Birder of the Year, their paths often intertwine and their interactions become cutthroat. By the end of the movie, however, deep friendships emerge that trump the competition. Evan may miss the lessons of the movie, but he no doubt will be thrilled to see these the beautiful landscapes and the many images of birds.