Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson! Each have highly regarded films to their name... and yet they also have dreadful ones. With this in mind I entered into The Big Year cautiously. The film opens with a title card which reads "Based on a true story. The only thing changed are the facts"... hmm, not a promising start. And so the story is established and we learn that The Big Year is an annual birding (bird watching) contest with the winner claiming a prestigious and respected title of The World's Best. At first it seems like such a stupid way to pass the time and given that the contest is run on the honour system, it feels like a flimsy premise for a movie, particularly a comedy. 15 minutes into it and I was certain I wasn't going to enjoy it at all... 100 minutes later and I loved it!! The movie doesn't go for any cheap laughs and isn't aiming for hijinks or frivolity... it actually ends up being an affectionate ode to an old and popular pastime. I came from the movie with an appreciation for what I initially thought was stupid and an understanding about how people fall in love with birding. The most surprising thing for me, however, was the amount of great actors in this damn movie... aside from the 3 leads there's also; Angelica Houston, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parsons, Dianne Weist, Kevin Pollack, Brian Dennehy amongst others... hell, Corbin Bernsen even reemerges!! The Big Year is a subtle, understated and likeable movie about 3 guys who love birds. Considering my trepidation at the start, it gets full kudos for delivering something unexpected.