''The Big Year'' is a 2011 [[TheFilmOfTheBook film adaptation]] of the 2004 [[RealLife nonfiction]] book by Mark Obmascik starring JackBlack, SteveMartin and Owen Wilson as three birders, each trying to break the "Big Year" record for the most bird species seen in North America in a calendar year. InspiredBy the true story of the 1998 Big Year competition (as recounted in Obmascik's book), it follows Black as Brad Harris, a computer programmer with an expert knowledge of bird calls who's saved up enough money to finally do a Big Year; Martin as Stu Preissler, a corporate executive on the verge of retirement; and Wilson as Kenny Bostick, a contractor and the current record-holder with 732 species.
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!! Tropes in this film include:
* {{Adorkable}}: Ellie.
* BenevolentBoss: Brad's supervisor isn't really into birding and seems to find his obsession with it slightly odd, but is nonetheless remarkably understanding about short-notice requests for time off to chase rarities.
* BigBrotherMentor: Stu becomes one to Brad.
* BlackAndNerdy: Dr. Kramer: Presumably an MD and definitely the holder of ''[[NotThatKindOfDoctor some]]'' kind of Doctorate, and [[ForegoneConclusion a birder]] to boot.
* CaliforniaDoubling: British Columbia and the Yukon doubled for most of the American settings.
* ConspicuousCG: The CG birds are quite realistic, but occasionally they drift towards this territory.
* CoolOldGuy: Stu.
* CoolOldLady: Brad's mother.
** Also Stu's wife, Edith.
* CursedWithAwesome: Stu lost his sense of smell in an accident with industrial chemicals, [[spoiler: which comes in very handy chasing rare birds at a garbage dump]].
* {{Determinator}}: All three main characters, in their own ways.
* TheFilmOfTheBook: That probably very few people reading the original book ever expected to see.
* FlippingTheBird: Bostick, to two birders who complain about him pushing ahead of them at one point.
* [[GoingToSeeTheElephant Going To See The Rare Birds]]
* GottaCatchThemAll: This ''is'' a movie about birders.
* HappilyMarried: Stu and his wife, Edith.
* HappyDance: After [[spoiler:Brad finds out Ellie broke up with her boyfriend]].
* HeyItsThatVoice: Creator/JohnCleese narrates a short film explaining the history of Christmas Bird Counts and Big Years, as well as further commentary tracks for the [[LimitedSpecialCollectorsUltimateEdition Extended Edition]].
* HorribleCampingTrip: The honeymooning couple on Attu.
* InVinoVeritas: When Brad first tells Stu about his Big Year attempt.
* InspiredBy: To quote the opening titles: "This is a true story. Only the facts have been changed." Though aside from the characters' names being changed, their personal lives being fictionalised and the story being reset in the 2000s, the movie actually follows the [[NonFiction nonfiction]] book it was based on quite closely for the most part.
* InsistentTerminology: Stu corrects a colleague who makes the mistake of calling birding "bird watching." Definitely [[TruthInTelevision truth in television]] in this case.
* InvisibleAdvertising: Fox hardly promoted the film, only releasing a trailer one month before release and having said trailer completely lie about the premise.
* JerkWithAHeartOfJerk: Bostick. Any time the film begins to portray him as not such a bad guy, he immediately does something selfish, rude or underhanded in the pursuit of victory.
** Although it's worth mentioning that [[spoiler:[[EvenEvilHasStandards he won't fudge his numbers]]]].
* KnowledgeBroker: Rare bird alert hotlines.
* LivingMacGuffin: ''[[GottaCatchThemAll Any]]'' bird, really, but the snowy owl in particular takes this role for Kenny, as does the pink-footed goose for Brad and Stu.
* NeverTrustATrailer
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Unlike the book, the names of the participants were changed and the events of the 1998 Big Year record attempts were explicitly changed to another year, despite the exact series of unusual weather events that made the 1998 record possible being accurately depicted.
** In particular, the introductory narration at the start of the film [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial specifically establishes that Sandy Komito]] is ''not'' the same person as Kenny Bostick by crediting Bostick with having broken Komito's old record.
* PekingDuckChristmas.
* PyrrhicVictory: [[spoiler:Bostick]]
* TheRival: Bostick.
* RivalsTeamUp: [[spoiler: Brad and Stu]] towards the end, on the theory that someone has to beat [[spoiler: Bostick's record]].
* SecondPlaceIsForLosers: Invoked by [[spoiler: Bostick in a discussion with his wife]] but ultimately deconstructed [[spoiler: at the end by Brad and Stu]].
* SeldomSeenSpecies: The driving force of the entire plot.
* SelfMadeMan: Stu.
* SeriousBusiness: [[CaptainObvious Birding]].
* SettingUpdate: Very subtle example, with obviously modern cellphones, at least one hybrid vehicle and a minor blogging subplot added to an adaptation of a book about events that took place in 1998 (the beginning narration also explicitly establishes that the movie takes place after 2003).
* ShoutOut: To [[RealLife real life]]: At one point Stu suggests Bostick might be aiming for "some ridiculous number" for a new record, when Brad asks what would be a ridiculous number he replies "740? 745?": 745 being the actual record Sandy Komito set in 1998...
** If you look closely, Brad's boss has a [[TheSimpsons Mr. Burns]] bobblehead on his desk.
* ShownTheirWork: Thankfully played straight, for the most part, with accurate depictions of birds and their calls.
* SnowMeansDeath: Played with: [[spoiler:Brad starts to worry about his father, who recently had a heart attack, and becomes increasingly agitated while trying to find him after the two split up in a forest with snow falling all around them]] but it turns out [[spoiler: [[SubvertedTrope he's fine]] and has just found the great gray owl they were looking for]].
* ThoseTwoGuys: Dr. Kramer and Dr. Elkin, two other birders only identified by name in the credits and a [[DeletedScene deleted scene]] who crop up at most of the big birding hotspots throughout the year.
** Also Stu's two assistants at his company.
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory
* WellDoneSonGuy: Brad's cantankerous father thinks there are better ways his son could spend his time and money.
* WildlifeCommentarySpoof: Creator/JohnCleese's narration.
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