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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, July 01, 2016

Movie Review - I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (2015)
Directed by Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker
***This film is currently strewing on Amazon Prime***

Much like Mickey Mouse, there's an iconic nature to Big Bird, the lovable childlike yellow bird whom huge portions of the world spent watching as kids.  The innocence of Big Bird stems from Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who has been inside that huge costume since Sesame Street's inception and continues voicing and bringing him to life today.  I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is a lovely documentary that gives voice to the man inside that costume and how his life drastically changed when Jim Henson spotted him at a puppet expo in the late 1960s.

It's tough not to have a smile on your face the whole run time of I Am Big Bird (except for the surprisingly gut-wrenching moment when Big Bird sings at Jim Henson's funeral -- oh man, that nearly got me).  Sure, Spinney has some difficult moments in both his personal and professional life that are chronicled here, but he seems to be a genuinely sweet, mild-mannered, and soft-spoken guy who has lived in an exemplary way, desiring to bring joy to the youth of America and around the world.  This sense of happiness oftentimes had me wondering what exactly the point of the documentary was -- I mean, there's very little dramatic tension -- but then I realized that the point is for people like me to be able to appreciate someone who had great impact on their life.  Through interviews with Spinney, his wife, children, fellow Sesame Street cast members (Luis!  Maria!), and puppeteers, we get a great picture of the man who created not only Big Bird, but also Oscar the Grouch.

As I said, there's very little emotional impact here and writer/co-director Dave La Mattina jumps around in Spinney's personal time line in a way that felt slightly odd to me, but I Am Big Bird still was a joy to watch.  I can't see how anyone who grew up watching Sesame Street on weekday mornings wouldn't get a kick out of seeing the man behind the puppets they love.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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