Ace birder and reigning world champion of The Big Year, Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is dining alone in a Chinese restaurant somewhere on Christmas Eve. He’s the only diner in the restaurant and the waiter and waitress have nothing to do other than bring him, and only him, his food.
He’s alone because, instead of being with his wife, he’s off on his birding expedition to protect his world’s record for bird sightings in a calendar year. We get this exchange:
Bostick: Hey guys, come over and join me at the table, there’s nothing going on and I’d like to thank you for working on Christmas Eve.
[They come over and sit down].
Bostick: I’d sure like to go to China some day and see all the different kinds of birds. Hey Chan, do you know anything about the birds in China?
Chan: Um…Peking Duck…?
Sadly, that was the funniest line in the whole film, and one of only a few, rare laugh out loud moments in the film. You’d think that with stars like Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson – that the film would be an actual comedy. Going in, visions of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – the classic Road film with Steve Martin and John Candy came to mind. Though it looks and sounds like a comedy in the trailer, and is a billed as a comedy – simply, it’s not funny enough to be a comedy. Mostly, it doesn’t even try that hard to get you to laugh.
Our three leads are in a head to head competition to win The Big Year which is a competition between folks to see who can see the most different kinds of Birds in North America in one calendar year. There’s no prizes to be won, no judges or referees – the entire thing goes on the honor system, and the top dog, er guy, get’s his picture on the cover of Birding Magazine. That’s it. We really have no rooting interest because for us, nothing is at stake.