Newest Reviews
Matrix, The
Fried Barry
Once Upon a River
We Still Say Grace
Enfant Terrible
Playboy of the Western World, The
Bike Thief, The
Virtuoso, The
Here are the Young Men
Beast Beast
Labyrinth of Cinema
Justice Society: World War II
Artist's Wife, The
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Pusher III
Palm Springs
Devil Commands, The
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Newest Articles
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
  I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story Weathers The Feathers
Year: 2014
Director: Dave LaMattina, Chad N. Walker
Stars: Caroll Spinney, Debra Spinney, Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Kevin Clash, Eric Jacobson, Sonia Manzano, Roscoe Orman, Dave Goelz, Emilio Delgado, Matt Vogel, Jerry Nelson, Alison Bartlett, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Judy Valentine, Cheryl Henson, Lianzi Ouyang
Genre: DocumentaryBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ever since Caroll Spinney watched a puppet show as a child, he was so impressed that it set him on a course to his long-lasting career as a puppeteer, though that work means he is not often recognised for he spends all of his time on stage or on screen hidden beneath his puppets. Or should we say Muppets, as he met the creator of those cultural benchmarks Jim Henson when he was preparing to make television shows for the newly established Children's Television Workshop, a set up for public broadcasting that was in the late sixties something bold for the medium, designed to educate as well as entertain in a more modern parlance than ever before. So Caroll was hired by them, and the rest was history...

As the title informs you, one of the characters he was recruited for was Big Bird from Sesame Street, among the most enduring children's shows of all time, and one of the others was Oscar the Grouch, both of whom continued with Spinney performing them for decades, eventually becoming a true survivor of the style. This was a documentary brought about by a tremendous amount of goodwill, mainly from the fans of Sesame Street and those characters in particular as the directors asked them to put up a donation of their own money to fund the film; such was the feeling of affection towards its subject that they were happy to be a part of it and it was able to be completed.

It did mean that not a whole lot of budget was available, and you can see that when almost all of the running time was divided between talking heads and archive footage, though they did manage an appropriate ending to the story they had told, not to spoil anything. Those talking heads included Spinney himself of course, as well as his second wife and soulmate Debra and his offspring, but more familiar faces turned up as well, including his fellow Muppet performers such as Jerry Nelson, paying tribute before his death as this was in production, and more recent players like Matt Vogel, and also some of the actors who would appear on Sesame Street with him. Even Jim Henson himself was able to provide praise thanks to rare footage at a gathering of his team.

So if the mood was one of warm reminiscence for the most part, every so often something would happen that reminded you it was not all a bed of roses and into each and every life a little rain must fall. Spinney recalled his thoughts of suicide after his disastrous first marriage broke up, but it is implied the power of the Muppets was what kept him going, and that force for good those characters represent, that sense of inclusion and positivity laced with slight melancholy that it's not always going to go your way, or your friends' way, was something the directors did allow to inform the tone of the piece. At certain points they were a little too obvious in their designs on the viewers' tear ducts, however, the constant treacly music something of a distraction.

That said, there were other moments where it would take a heart of absolute granite not to be moved, such as the clip of Big Bird singing It's Not Easy Being Green at the very emotional funeral of Jim Henson; that Spinney managed to keep the performance together, his voice audibly cracking in places, was testament to his skill and a deeply affecting sequence. As was the famous clip of Big Bird learning of the death of one of Sesame Street's recurring actors that they purposefully included in the show to teach the young viewers about how there will always be someone passing on in your life eventually, moments like that proving the worth of the entire durable project. In the main I Am Big Bird was pretty straightforward, though animated segments illustrating for example how the bird costume is operated were unexpectedly fascinating, and if the film acknowledges Spinney - in his very late seventies at the time this was made - cannot go on forever, it nevertheless brings hope that he has left a genuine legacy. Overall, it was a sweet and humane, if simple, documentary.

[There is a lot of extra footage in featurette form in Spectrum's DVD. A must for Muppet completists.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1513 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: