Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

For the Birds 

Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson's fowl new movie

“Only Americans can turn birding into a competition,” remarks a British birdwatcher in the uncommonly gentle comedy The Big Year, about the compulsive quest of three men to win the North American Big Year, a contest to spot the most bird species in one year.

Brad (Jack Black), a software engineer who can recognize any bird by its song, teams up with Stu (Steve Martin), a wealthy CEO and fellow obsessive, to topple the reigning champ, the cocky, underhanded Kenny Bostwick (Owen Wilson) from his perch. The movie follows the contenders as they travel the continent, spending thousands of dollars and enduring storms, mosquitoes, rats, and risky helicopter flights to catch glimpses of the Pink-footed goose, the Crested Myna, and other rare species in pursuit of their goal.

The humor is a bit too larkish, but the story gracefully weaves the men’s migrations with their personal lives: Brad’s rapprochement with his initially disapproving father, Stu gathering the courage to finally retire, and Kenny's neglect of his pretty wife to trail the Snowy Owl and defend his title. --Pamela Zoslov

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show @ Cedar Lee Theatre

    • First Saturday of every month

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation