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A Big Day

Joann and I saw the Twin Cities premiere of “The Big Year” very early on Friday morning. Very early. The showing started at one minute after midnight at the ShowCase ICON Theatre in St Louis Park. This advance screening was arranged by Sharon Stiteler—”the Birdchick“—and sponsored by Swarovski Optik.

It turned out to be a very big day for me. The movie was fun, the company of the “Birds and Beers” crowd was fun, Clay Taylor[1] of Swarovski Optik picked up the bar tab for the entire group, and I won a door prize.

First, the film.

I loved the book and was prepared to be disappointed by the movie. But it easily exceeded my low expectations and I’m guessing all but the most pedantically exacting birders will love it. Nit-pickers will spot a few inaccuracies (the competitors saw their first Buffleheads of the year on Attu?), but for the most part the movie paid close attention to the book. Birds and birders were treated with respect; there were no “Jane Hathaway” stereotypes. The only one-dimensional comic characters in the film were the big-business lackeys who tried unsuccessfully to pull Stu (Steve Martin) away from his pursuit of birds back to the more rewarding, fulfilling, and normal pursuit of dollars. Fat chance.

Will the movie be a hit with non-birders? I’m not so sure. It’s not the sort of over-the-top comedy that fans of Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson might expect. The fact that it doesn’t play to birdwatching stereotypes will hurt it. A friend asked me Friday night whether the movie is anything like “Dog Show” (a hilarious, over-the-top skewering of that subculture). No, it’s not. It is a bit of a romantic comedy and a bit of a “buddy movie.” Maybe not big enough bits of either to satisfy the birding-deficient, though.[2]

What made it a really big day? The door prize, of course.

Swarovski added considerably to the attraction of the 12:01 AM showing by offering a pair of 10×30 CL Companion binoculars as a door prize. These bins sell for just about one grand (MSRP $1,110). Nothing but the price of admission to the movie was required to enter the drawing.

The drawing I won by holding ticket stub #231:

Now that’s a big day!


  1. Clay Taylor is the Naturalist Market Manager for Swarovski Optik North America. [^]
  2. Roger Ebert liked it, though, as did the New York Times’ A. O. Scott. [^]

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