90 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama
Review - Matt Mungle
Releasing theatrically in select theaters June 19, 2015, currently on demand and iTunes
45 years, Caroll Spinney has been beloved by generations of children
as the man behind Sesame Street's Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch - and
at 80 years old, he has no intention of stopping. A loving portrait
of the man in the yellow suit, I AM BIG BIRD features extraordinary
footage of Spinney's earliest collaborations with Jim Henson as it traces
his journey from bullied child to childhood icon. And as the yellow
feathers give way to grey hair, it is the man, not the puppet, who will
steal your heart.
Review: Spoiler alert! Big Bird is not a real bird but there is actually a man inside there! The Sesame Street icon has become so endearing and so grafted into our lives that often we forget that he is a character. And there is no doubt that Spinney would have it no other way. He has given his entire life to bringing joy to countless people in all countries. Big Bird is a one of a kind spirit and this documentary shows how genuine the spirit behind the bird is as well.
The film offers rare behind the scene footage of both Sesame Street and Caroll's transformation into the yellow suit. There are numerous shots of Jim Henson, Frank Oz and all the Sesame Street cast. Heartfelt interviews show just how loved Spinney is and how much those around him are touched by his sincerity and dedication to the craft.
It is a strong reminder of just how emotionally in-tune Big Bird is to our own feelings. There are touching moments of Spinney interacting with children and reflecting on Jim Henson's passing. Plus we get the humor of Oscar the Grouch and how he balances both sides of Caroll. Family, friends, and co-workers all chime in with candid clips and interviews. Fans of puppetry will appreciate the inner workings of getting something as large as Big Bird to live and breathe. It truly is an ordeal and one that the 80 year old Spinney keeps right on doing.
Big Bird was famous enough to get a few of his own full length features and the documentary also takes us behind the scenes of those shoots as well. With every new clip you see more and more how much our society loves and acknowledges Big Bird. Talk Shows, SNL, politicians, movies; all at one time or another have crossed paths with the big yellow guy.
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story truly is a wonderful, emotional, and fascinating look at one of the most well known Sesame Street characters. You will be moved to tears one moment and bust out laughing the next. But the mainly you will be touched and inspired by the man inside; the soul of the big bird. I give it 4 out of 5 beaks. I will never look at Big Bird the same and in fact will cherish him even more.
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