Reel Critics: 'Big Year' gets a big yawn

"The Big Year" is a completely disposable comedy.

Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson are A-list actors all known for potentially outrageous humor. But their talents are totally wasted here. They act out a screenplay so tepid it may be a new cure for insomnia.

The three men come from different walks of life. But they all share a passion for competitive bird watching. (Is there really such a thing?) They all decide to enter a contest to see who can spot the greatest number of different bird species in a single year. The task involves lots of travel to exotic locations on short notice.

This 365-day effort requires major adjustments in their relationships and jobs. But the consequences to them are skipped over so lightly they hardly register in the plot.

Even the beautiful birds and stunning scenery take a back seat to the ultra bland storyline. This is a lackluster road buddy movie that will disappear from theaters very quickly. "The Big Year" is a big yawn.

*

'The Thing' is, this movie is bad

The thing with "The Thing" is, I don't get directors who remake a movie classic, yet say they don't want to mess with the original. So what's the point, other than to make a buck?

The same goes for "Footloose." If it ain't broke, don't remake it.

This version of John Carpenter's 1982 gross-out classic (itself a remake) gives us nothing new or improved. An Antarctic research station again finds a giant alien and a spaceship buried in the ice. Guess no one thought to bring a video of the original 1951 Howard Hawks movie, or they would have known what was coming.

They lug Thing inside like a giant block of party ice. No sooner do the guys start singing like a beer commercial than bam! The beast has defrosted. Its function is to terrorize everyone and adopt their human form, complete with beards and chunky knitwear.

Even the dialogue is unoriginal: "What is it?" "I have a bad feeling about this," and "What do we do now?"

The special effects aren't scarier, there's just more Things. For the price of your movie tickets, get a bag of frozen crab claws and sauce and watch 'em thaw. That might even be more fun than this movie.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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