The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 100/103 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Brian Dennehy, Angelica Huston, Rashida Jones, JoBeth Williams, Rosamund Pike, Dianne Wiest, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parsons, Kevin Pollack, Anthony Anderson
Directed by: David Frankel
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
Written by: Howard Franklin
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 31, 2012
"Everyone is searching for something"
Looking to shake up their routine lives, three amateur bird watchers compete to become the ultimate "birder" by spotting the greatest number of species within a single calendar year. But the friendly rivalry soon turns into a hilariously complicated cross-country adventure as each man begins to realize that the quest for success comes at a price - and that's not chicken feed!
Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson portray three men from very different walks of life, facing a mid-life crisis, a work-life crisis and a no-life crisis. Kenny Bostick (Wilson) holds the record in the annual Big Year competition where amateur birders traverse North America in a 12 month race to see who can spot the most species of birds. He is obsessed with his record and will go to great lengths to ensure he remains on top. Brad is a divorced bird lover in a dead end job and has always dreamt of competing in and winning The Big Year. Stu is a successful business executive, happily married, and on the brink to retirement. Having achieved great things in both his professional and personal life he decides to take time and pursue his love of birding by participating in the Big Year. As with any competition the rivalry is high and each man opts to keep his participation a secret. Eventually their paths cross which allows them to size one another up. Kenny immediately spots Brad and Stu seeing them as his primary competition while Brad and Stu strike up a friendship. As the year goes by and their numbers increase each man faces the trials of life associated with a year long quest that keeps them from home. The pressure mounts as year's end approaches and priorities must be weighed. Kenny, Brad and Stu soon discover that there is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition as long as you don't lose site of what is really important in life.
I liked The Big Year. It's a light comedy/buddy flick with a positive message about family, friendship, and priorities. It eschews the goofy slapstick while focusing on the differing interpersonal/familial relationships between the three primary characters and their significant others etc. The levity never seems misplaced and there are a few heartwarming moments and witty banter that prove entertaining. Jack Black is hit or miss depending on who you ask but I generally tend to enjoy watching him especially in a role like this. Owen Wilson's typical high energy charm is spot on and Steve Martin owns every scene he is in. The supporting cast is comprised of lots of familiar faces both old and new which added to the proceedings. The Big Year isn't the knee slapping comedy you might expect based on the cast. It aims higher and strikes a chord with a nicely balanced story about three very different men who share a common experience and come away from it with a new perspective. The two disc release from Fox includes the theatrical cut (which I watched) and extended unrated version which adds three minutes to the original runtime.
The rating is for language and some sensuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Big Year comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.2 Mbps.
This is a high quality video presentation that seems a perfect match for the source material. Colors are deeply saturated with eye pleasing vitality and delineated depth. Images are resolute, with stable sharpness, crisp detail and appreciable subtle refinement. Certain scenes appeared better resolved than others although I suspect this is related to the photography and not the encoding. Contrast was dynamic without being overpowering and blacks were respectable in depth with discernible detail in low lighting and shadows. I didn't see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent. The lossless soundtrack competently delivered the elements present in the recording. Dialogue was well intonated with crystal clarity and good room penetration. The presentation offered an open soundstage across the front with definitive channel separation and good dynamic range. Surround use was limited to spatial cues and occasional panning effects that enhanced dimension. This was noticeable during several sequences as the music and effects created a fair sense of envelopment in the rear of the room. There weren't any sub bass frequencies contained in the mix however the subwoofer was used to provide low bass emphasis that extended the low range content associated with the soundtrack's elements.
- Theatrical/Extended version
- (HD) 12 deleted scenes
- Gag reel - 6 minutes
- (HD) The big migration - 18 minute featurette
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- Bonus DVD
- Digital Copy
The Big Year isn't the knee slapping comedy you might expect however it aims higher and strikes a chord with a nicely balanced story about three very different men who share a common experience and come away from it with a new perspective. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox featuring crisp high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and a decent supplemental offering. Give it a rent on movie night.
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