I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story DVD Review
“I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story” is an emotional documentary
Since its debut in 1969, generations of people have grown up on “Sesame Street.” While we are all familiar with the show’s iconic characters (such as Big Bird), most folks don’t know the story of the cast members who portray them. Enter “I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story” which tells the story of the actor who was the man in the Big Bird suit AND the puppeteer of Oscar the Grouch since day one.
In standard documentary form, “I Am Big Bird” conveys the life story of its subject (Caroll Spinney) in a truncated but thorough manner. Via Spinney’s own narration and interviews with colleagues like Frank Oz, Bob McGrath, Jerry Nelson, Debra Spinney (Caroll’s devoted wife), Matt Vogel, and Emilio Delgado, we learn about Caroll’s parents, wives, children, Air Force service, passion for puppetry, television work (including the “Bozo” show), struggles, adventures, and how Jim Henson recruiting him to “Sesame Street.” Accompanying this information is a plethora of show clips, archival footage (including Big Bird at Jim Henson’s funeral), and fascinating behind-the-scenes footage.
While some viewers will go into “I Am Big Bird” strictly for the “Sesame Street” behind-the-scenes tidbits (ie how the costume works and operates and so forth), the heart of the movie is Caroll’s personal stories. Whether he’s describing the joy of being an artist, relaying a gut wrenching story of how Big Bird was originally going to be on The Challenger shuttle, recounting a unforgettable China trip, or chatting about his family, Spinney reminds us all that life is full of love, heartbreak, emotion, and adventure. For these stories alone, it is worth spending the time to venture into the world of Caroll Spinney.
Presentation: Widescreen. How does it look? As is to be expected, this documentary varies in quality as it toggles between newly shot and archival footage.
Audio Track: Dolby Digital 5.1. How does it sound? As clear as can be.
* Tribeca Film trailers.
* 7 deleted scenes titled “Caroll On Camera,” “Caroll Meets Michael Jackson,” “Oscar The Grouch,” “Big Bird’s Biggest Fan,” “First Date,” “Deb’s Song,” and “Chinese Big Bird.”
Overall Thoughts: “I Am Big Bird” is a sweet, moving, and fast paced documentary. Check it out.
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