The characters are just as two-dimensional as they sound, but damned if Wilson, Martin, and Black don't make those dimensions pop.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
Like birding itself, "The Big Year" rewards patience. It respects both the integrity and the eccentricity of the avian obsession, and it communicates something of the fascinating abundance and weirdness of the animals themselves.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
This gently charming comedy about a trio of birders is based on a winning premise, likable performances and stunning natural vistas.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
"The Big Year" has heart and sweetness to spare - but as any birder will tell you, focus and energy count, too.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
Black tamps down the runty obnoxiousness, Wilson the Malibu smarm, Martin the pandering. They're good company. So, in its fubsy way, is the movie.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
Failing even to attempt genuinely humorous gags or scenarios, and incapable of conveying the thrill of its obsessive pastime or the majesty of the animals themselves, this feel-good male weepie remains comedically and dramatically grounded.
Nick Schager - Village Voice
A genial comedy with more power under its wings than it seems. This one could have flown over the cuckoo's nest, or smacked into a glass pane, but instead lands in the middle of the road where quirky and popular meet.
Joe Neumaier - New York Daily News
Its charms are as small as its singing feathered friends, but they're real enough, and gentle enough, to lift it and give it flight.
Amy Biancolli - Houston Chronicle
The Big Year has charms: Not a jawdropping flock of them, but a number of sweet insights and warm laughs just the same.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
...it's a genuinely engaging and amiable film that convincingly brings the viewer into a world that is very likely not his own
Glenn Kenny - MSN Movies
Unfortunately, these comic geniuses are kept caged by the wan script and direction. The best gag in the film is the opening title card; the best joke, a throwaway by a day player.
Richard Brody - New Yorker
[It] has an innocence and charm that will make it appealing for families, especially those who have had enough whales and dolphins for the year.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
It has barely enough pulse to power a hummingbird.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
With ambitions greater than comedy and results that fall short of character study, The Big Year is neither fish nor fowl.
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
You doubt that even the people making it enjoyed it. A better title would be "The Big Yawn."
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
People watching birds is a nice thing. People watching a movie about people watching birds is sort of a snore.
Tom Long - Detroit News
You get something you don't anticipate -- and that's not a bad thing.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
The most inviting thing in the movie was the exit door.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
A genial if slow-moving, almost sleepy comedy.
Brian Lowry - Variety
This movie stubbornly refuses to take flight, or generate more than a few chuckles.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
Frankel is blessed with this cast and a subject that seems ripe for mockery, or at least gentle lampooning. But he never lands big laughs, just grins and giggles.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
All of these featherheads - both the avian and human kind - are lovable. Even better, they're funny, in a comedy that doesn't have to swoop to conquer.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
A very mild movie, but in the nicest sense of the word.
Laremy Legel - Film.com
The result is an offence-free, mild entertainment in which everyone from cast to scriptwriter seems to be winging it.
Liam Lacey - Globe and Mail
This film may not do for birds what Frankel's last film, Marley & Me, did for dogs, but there's a similar current of warmth and appreciation for the effect of animals on people to be felt.
Todd McCarthy - Hollywood Reporter
"The Big Year" flaps its wings awfully hard but never truly takes flight.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
It's like an Easter egg hunt for adults, joyous and sweet. The Big Year competition may be fierce, but the movie is as soft as a bunny.
Mary F. Pols - TIME Magazine
There is some harmless pleasure to be found when feathers aren't ruffled, when the fowl is not foul.
Betsy Sharkey - Los Angeles Times
Faintly amusing, not wacky at all, considering this cast.
Leonard Maltin - ReelzChannel.com
The Big Year is completely predictable and full of way too many bird-watching montages set to inspiring music, but it's such an upbeat, cheery film that it's pretty hard to resist.
Eric Melin - Scene-Stealers.com
If you can get past the obviously obscure subject matter, you'll find a really sweet film beneath.
Kevin Carr - 7M Pictures
If you go into it not expecting big comedy, "The Big Year" can be an enjoyable diversion for an evening. But it helps if you like nature.
James Plath - Movie Metropolis
Frankel and co might have taken a bolder step into the darkly comedic look of the birder's psyche and added more of a gust of air into this film's feathers ...
Lisa Giles-Keddie - Real.com
If you are stuck in a rut and really want to follow your dreams, try this gentle, light-hearted comedy.
Graham Young - Birmingham Post
The opposite of the quiet, contemplative activity ornithology is supposed to be, this may well be the joke, in which case it's the only one.
Philip French - Observer [UK]
A charming little narrative movie that is so amiably ridiculous that you're sure it must have been invented... The three stars bring their most satisfying games, their comedy small and human-scaled rather than broad and slapsticky..
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
A comedy with fewer laughs than measles.
David Edwards - Daily Mirror [UK]
A feather-light tale that never really takes off.
David Aldridge - Radio Times
It's theoretically possible for laughs to be gouged out of this scenario, but you won't find them here: every move, every joke, every emotion is heaved lumberingly into place.
The Big Year is as glossy and inert as Martin's face, which these days seems to require more foundation than the Burj Khalifa.
Robbie Collin - Daily Telegraph
Even though it's rather corny and sentimental, this colourful comedy-drama holds our interest mainly because it's about a subject we'd never imagine watching a film about.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Engaging, low-key comedy enlivened by likeable characters, strong performances and an original central premise, though it's slightly undone by an overwritten script and a grating, ever-present voiceover.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Just a load of planes, cranes and Himalayan snowcocks.
Elliott Noble - Sky Movies
Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin find a formula for blandness
Robert Denerstein - Movie Habit
Veers close to being The Bucketful-of-Birds List. So pleasantly decent and hesitant to be complex that it's rather simple-minded; it just doesn't make an obsession sing to us.
Brian Gibson - Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
In some alternate universe, a much better version of The Big Year exists, one that embraces the essential, insular weirdness and romantic fanaticism of the birding community it chronicles.
Kimberley Jones - Austin Chronicle
Even if you don't know a sapsucker from a seagull, The Big Year displays unusual heart, and respect for a pastime that could easily be mocked.
Steve Persall - Tampa Bay Times
A lackluster movie about birdwatching is a total waste of Martin/Wilson/Black's talents.
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
...a slick yet empty piece of work.
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
Perhaps in the hands other another director, this film about obsessive birders would have felt truly obsessive. Instead, it's simply nice.
Jeff Bayer - The Scorecard Review
One of the smartest and funniest films this year..
Pete Hammond - Boxoffice Magazine
It might not be in the running for the worst Hollywood movie of 2011, but then again it might.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
An ornithological delight designed with the bird fancier in mind!
Kam Williams - NewsBlaze
If The Big Year does anything, it highlights how far Martin, Black, and Wilson have fallen from the giddy, off-kilter humor they used to bring to projects.
Jeff Meyers - Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Poor Owen Wilson, another rotten movie. He's joined by Steve Martin and Jack Black, no strangers to the genre, in this uninivolving tale that even beautiful scenery can't redeem.
Tony Medley - Tolucan Times
It's funny, has a plot and its lack of profanity and violence is a welcome relief.
Diana Saenger - ReviewExpress.com
I'd write that The Big Year is for the birds, but it's quite enjoyable at times -- a bright and colorful escapade across America (or likely Canada) with three affable comedians scrambling to make tepid material their own.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Insipid and inept.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
'Year flies over the cuckoo's nest.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
A game of Angry Birds is far more enjoyable than this flocked-up mess. A script written in wingdings would have been preferable.
Kimberly Gadette - Doddle
It's nice to watch a comedy that doesn't screech or foul the nest, but "The Big Year" is no big deal.
Joe Williams - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A small movie with small charms.(Movie Review for Parents also available)
Teddy Durgin - Screen It!
It's just all, unfortunately, a little stronger on the pretty pictures than it is on interesting characters, or sharp comedy.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
"The Big Year" proves yet again that comedy isn't just magic that happens when funny people stand next to each other. They actually have to be doing or saying, or not doing or not saying, something that might inspire humor.
Alison Gang - San Diego Union-Tribune
How can a movie with these great actors/comedians be so unfunny?
Kevin McCarthy - BDK Reviews
The lead performances feel a bit restrained as the stars struggle to find a balance between comic exaggeration and dramatic realism.
John Hazelton - Screen International
Bird-watching - or birding, as practitioners prefer to call it - makes for a stupefyingly boring movie.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
It's the mayonnaise of movies.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
nothing emotional going on inside
Bill Gibron - Filmcritic.com
An enjoyable comedy about three avid birders who wind up as competitors on a quest to see who can spot the most species of birds in North America
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
For less ambitious bird watchers, these details may be fascinating... but for most of us, it's strictly for the birds.
Daniel M. Kimmel - New England Movies Weekly
The question that comes most readily to mind is why the powers that be went to the trouble of hiring three actors with vivid on-screen personas and then did everything in their power to render them non-entities.
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
Considering the high-flying talent attached, The Big Year is a big letdown.
Matt Stevens - E! Online
Fine-feathered, somewhat funny - yet it's a quirky, outdoorsy expedition that fails to take comedic flight.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
A buddy movie meets a birdy movie, and three guesses who wins that one!
Harry Haun - Film Journal International
What a waste that three of our finest actors are utilized as glorified bit players in such an instantly disposable comedy.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
Yes, the characters are razor-thin and the dialogue wooden, but there's some light comic fun to be had with the batty birders.
Clint O'Connor - Cleveland Plain Dealer
If you're tired of gross-out humour and interested to see what three leading comics do with this mild-mannered material, The Big Year is well worth a look.
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
...the film itself qualifies as a rara avis: a benign, good-hearted movie about three disparate characters' search for happiness. The fact that it's rated PG, and yet is intended for adult audiences, should tell you something about the movie's nature.
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
Sweet, soulful travelogue/comedy isn't just for the birds.
S. Jhoanna Robledo - Common Sense Media
One of the blandest imaginable comedies, a PG-rated flick that's so nice and so harmless it's like inhaling pound after pound of flavorless tofu.
Robert Levin - Film School Rejects
What's next? A movie about people watching TV?
Victoria Alexander - FilmsInReview.com
One of the most commendable things about The Big Year is its willingness to allow that your passions are your passions, and while the world may not comprehend them, that doesn't mean they have to be a source of unfair mockery.
Alison Willmore - Movieline
Aside from an international staring contest and the World Series of Texting, there aren't many challenges less suited for a movie than competitive [birding].
Matt Pais - RedEye
Stunning photography compensates for silly plot.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Drained of its stars' onetime giddy spirit, this is an Olive Garden farce for audiences who don't hunger for authentic wit.
Bill Weber - Slant Magazine
Owen Wilson and Jack Black appear on the verge of succumbing to the same terminal blandness that's gripped Martin for so long.
Keith Phipps - AV Club
Good-natured and amiable though it is, it's not particularly funny, nor are its sunny elements enough to justify dragging yourself out of the house to see it.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
... one of the most pleasant surprises of this little year ...
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
The only real reason to watch it is if you're looking for something to talk about with your granny.
Joshua Tyler - CinemaBlend.com
The movie feels rushed ... and in the process, it solves its minimal conflicts too easily.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
The scenery and the birds (at least the less obviously CGI birds) are lovely. But the personal lives of the three men are predictable and not very compelling.
Nell Minow - Beliefnet
While likable enough, the movie proves a curiously pallid, choppy mixture of farce and sentiment that doesn't take full advantage of what the stars have to offer.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
As funny as Alzheimer's and as entertaining as catatonia, "The Big Year" is more pet peeve than pastime.
If the mere mention of the blue-footed booby sends you into paroxysms, The Big Year is the film for you.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
If only "The Big Year" played as strongly as a movie about birding as it does as one of those films where the journey doesn't matter as much as that same old revelations about what matters in life.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson all have made a great film or two, surrounded by tons of bad ones. "The Big Year" is closer to the latter.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
"The Big Year" is that rarity: a genuinely sweet film, about nice people happily engaged in the pursuit of something they love.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
Another watered-down mainstream comedy with a self-improvement message and standard relationship dramas.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
The film has some charm, but the potential comic explosiveness of bringing together such major talents as Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson remains unfulfilled.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Even if The Big Year doesn't entirely jell, it's a movie that's too charming to dislike.
Well-made, well-acted and at times very touching, despite featuring characters generally behaving like obsessed weirdos
Stephen Silver - Patch