Flash Movie Review: I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story
All the way to the amusement park we kept hearing about this fictional being that flies in the air. The adults in the car knew it was just a marketing tool to entice children into the park and more importantly into the gift shops. When we finally endured the long lines, mosquitoes and conveniently located souvenir stands; we were all sitting down in our seats in the theater. When the lights went down and the fictional being, who was a person wearing a costume, appeared on stage I looked down at the small child next to me and saw pure innocent wonderment. They had a stuffed toy of this thing that they slept with at night, one of their books and now it was live up on stage; I will never forget the look on that child’s face. It is too bad that innocence does not last longer in all of us. I am reminded of a conversation I had with a relative recently. They were telling me about their young daughter who was traumatized in class when a classmate said the Easter bunny was not real. Up until that point she had believed the bunny was real. This film reminded me what it was like to be a child again, steeped in an imaginary world. FROM a childhood of abuse and teasing emerged one of the biggest cultural icons; yet no one would ever recognize him walking down the street. For over 40 years puppeteer Caroll Spinney has been doing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, from the Muppets. Nearly 80 years old, he has no plans to stop being them. This film festival winning documentary was filled with so many memorable moments from the past that I could not help but relive parallel memories as I watched this magical movie. I cannot imagine any viewer sitting through this picture without making some kind of personal connection. I was stunned by what Caroll had to do to manipulate Big Bird’s costume; wait until you see him getting ready to perform. Hearing the different stories from the human Muppets like Frank Oz (Miss Piggy, Yoda) and Jim Henson (Kermit the Frog, Ernie) only endeared me more to these people and their creations. Now I did wonder if some things were told or depicted through sanitized lenses because they were a bit too cloyingly sweet. Another way of saying this would be, “A bit too schmaltzy.” However I absolutely forgave the minor faults, like the fuzzy home footage, of this film because of the high entertainment value it provided me. Maybe there are some people who do not want to see the reality behind these magical puppets, afraid it will burst their memories. I on the other hand got to be a little kid again for the night.
3 1/2 stars
Posted on May 6, 2015, in Documentary and tagged 3 1/2 stars, big bird, biography, caroll spinney, documentary, film festival winner, frank oz, jim henson, muppets. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.