Here’s a joke: Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson all walk onto a movie set, working with Marley & Me director David Frankel and The Man Who Knew Too Little screenwriter Howard Franklin on The Big Year, an adaptation of Mark Obmascik’s 1998 book, “The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession.”

The punchline? You get a movie that truly looks like the sum of its parts, if the official Big Year trailer is anything to go by.

Big Year stars Black, Martin, and Wilson as three men in difficult stages of their life: Black is unemployed and has little ambition, Wilson is suffering from a mid-life crisis, and Martin is struggling to figure out how to spend his remaining years, since he is now retired. All three men eventually decide to leave their regular lives behind them for one year and spend that time traveling across the country, doing what they’ve always loved – bird watching.

For more, check out the Big Year trailer (via iTunes Movie Trailers) below:

While the Big Year supporting cast includes noteworthy starlets like Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation), Rosamund Pike (Pride and Prejudice) – along with Oscar-winners Anjelica Huston (The Royal Tenenbaums) and Dianne West (Bullets Over Broadway) – this is clearly Black, Martin, and Wilson’s show. Frankel is aiming to strike a balance between broad comedy and heartfelt sentiment, like he did in films such as Marley & Me and The Devil Wears Prada. Does he look to have done a good job of that?

It’s kind of hard to say, based on the Big Year footage shown so far. Some of the physical comedy bits (like Black’s pratfalls) and glimpses of meaningful conversations between the characters comes off less as genuinely hilarious and touching and more like the sort of over-the-top scenes you’d expect to see in a generic sitcom. Heck, the bit where Black wishes that a blizzard won’t happen – followed immediately by (guess what) a snow storm – almost feels like it should have a laugh track accompanying it.

Best to not dismiss Big Year just yet, though. You might remember that the trailers for Frankel’s adaptation of Marley & Me likewise teased a movie full of wacky comedy antics – and yet the final product was much more serious in tone that we’d all been led to believe. So perhaps The Big Year will offer a better mix of laughs and drama than this trailer indicates.

Be sure to check out the Big Year poster below:

The Big Year arrives in U.S. theaters on October 14th, 2011.

Source: iTunes Movie Trailers