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Every bit as good-natured as longtime fans might hope, I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story offers heartwarming behind-the-scenes perspective on a cultural icon.
All Critics (67)
| Top Critics (24)
| Fresh (56)
| Rotten (11)
| DVD (1)
There's little sour to temper the sweetness of this portrait.
Though its gooey, sentimental soundtrack is a misstep - this story is quite sweet enough already - "I Am Big Bird" is mesmerizing for anyone (and that's a lot of us) who grew up with "Sesame Street."
Very much a heartwarming tribute, bordering on treacly.
Spinney is a one-of-a-kind personality, an oddball even among the oddballs who pioneered Sesame Street's Children's Television Workshop.
There's no ducking the frank admiration and love on display in "I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story." Then again, there's a lot to love and admire here. It's freaking Big Bird.
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story" is the delightful and heartwarming story of the man inside the head, the 8 foot tall 6 year old who has crossed borders, transcended politics, breached intractable boundaries and enriched lives from his inception.
A slathering of sentimentally triumphant music emphasizes what seems like a feeling of protectiveness for their subject, but fair enough.
It plays like an extended promo, washed with a score of elevator-music strings, and composed of so many talking-head snatches that it often feels like a trailer for itself.
It's amazing that a documentary so clumsy has such incredible highs and lows, but that's the power of Big Bird for you.
I Am Big Bird is not great filmmaking but it pays fitting tribute to Spinney and the character into which he invested so much of his own personality.
The purity of intent and sophisticated craft [Spinney] has poured into their creation remains unacknowledged by the general public. The modestly appointed, crowd-funded documentary I Am Big Bird should clear up that oversight once and for all.
Nice, but not a patch on the Elmo documentary.
The story of Caroll Spinney is told from a perspective tinged with nostalgia and childlike wonder. Though he has been behind the scenes, so to speak, for the better part of forty years, Caroll is a childhood icon of millions of children, and a man of many talents. Principally looking at his work with Big Bird, but also Oscar the Grouch, this documentary looks at the life of the now septuagenarian puppeteer.
Read more at http://www.bluefairyblog.com/reviews/2015/10/1/i-am-big-bird
I saw this at the 2015 Cleveland International Film Festival. Caroll Spinney, the guy behind Oscar the Grouch and inside Big Bird since 1969, gets his own biographical documentary. This, of course, focuses more on the creation of Big Bird. Caroll is well aware that there aren't many of the original cast of puppeteers for Sesame Street who are still alive, but at the age of 80 when this doc was being filmed he was not ready to retire. He has been training a young puppeteer to learn Big Bird's mannerisms, but besides the increasing green screen work on Sesame Street, which Caroll doesn't care to do, most recent live appearances of Big Bird have still involved Caroll's performance skills. I'm from the generation that watched Sesame Street in the 80s, so not at the very beginning of the program, but well before Elmo took off in popularity with toddlers. I vaguely remember my parents taking me to see Follow that Bird in the theaters as well. As a young child Big Bird was real and Big Bird was the star. Now we get to learn the inner workings of Big Bird, how Caroll Spinney operates the controls in Big Bird's face with his arm extended over his head and how he moves around the set with only a tiny video monitor strapped to his chest to see his surroundings. It is still AMAZING how he does this while on roller-skates so often. This film also explores his family relationships, especially the love story between Caroll and his second wife Debra. It seems like they have found true love and the home movie footage is quite special. The story about the NASA Challenger mission is heart-stopping. Not only is Caroll a super talented puppeteer, but he is also an animator, so it is appropriate that the closing credits show off his art work. The movie covers a wide swath of his life and, though there doesn't appear to be a book biography of Mr. Spinney, my only complaint is that the filmmaker tried to cram too much material in, so that it felt much longer than its hour and a half run time.
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