I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story online movie review - A True Heartwarmer for Any Generation
Sesame Street was an integral part of my childhood. Sure, I had Mr Rogers, Sharon Lois & Bram, and Mr. Dress-Up too, but Sesame Street was by far my favourite show.
I remember rushing downstairs in the morning to watch Big Bird and all his pals have fun, I remember begging my parents to buy me an stuffed Elmo doll, hell I even remember my parents rummaging through my aunt and uncle's attic to find VHS tapes of when they had taped Sesame Street off the TV for my cousins when they were kids back in the 80s. I was a nut.
This documentary is based around the life of Caroll Spinney, the man who plays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street. It not only does a fascinating job of chronicling his life as an actor, but the discourse pertaining to his philosophy on life, and how he translated that into the Big Bird who we all know and love. We get to know Big Bird like never before, on the part of Caroll Spinney as himself, Caroll Spinney as an actor and Caroll Spinney as Big Bird. It's wrapped in these fantastic layers that might seem daunting in text, but when the movie is over with, you go "My god, that makes perfect sense!". It showcases how Spinney really is one of our most remarkable and unseen actors of our age, and how delicate (metaphorically, of course, playing Big Bird as a puppeteer is a task and a half) his performance has been on to generation after generation of kids.
The movie also goes into detail on the journeys that both Big Bird and Spinney have had in their life - such as being the first Western pop culture (with Bob Hope) to venture into China after it opened it's doors, becoming a household name in America, and, one of the biggest shocks and surprises, nearly taking part with the crew on the NASA Challenger spaceship, which of course exploded a minute after launch, killing all on-board.
This movie is why I love being immersed in pop culture. There's a lot of people who have told me over the years that it's a bad thing to be surrounded by commercial products, but this movie packs a punch in that it personally warps me back to a simpler time, a time when my bestest friend was Big Bird and he taught me how to love the world.
Sure, I Am Big Bird has it's flaws. I would have liked for it to go deeper into the darker parts of some of the times of Caroll Spinney's life, but in the end I think that it would detract from the overall magic of the movie. I Am Big Bird is a heartwarming documentary for fans of puppeteering, but at it's core, an even warmer story for us who grew up with that lovable yellow bird.