DVD REVIEW: I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: DAVE LAMATTINA, CHAD N. WALKER / SCREENPLAY: DAVE LAMATTINA / STARRING: CAROLL SPINNEY, JIM HENSON, FRANK OZ, SONIA MANZANO / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 1ST
It’s probably a safe bet that most people know who Big Bird is (despite Sesame Street never really being aired in the UK) and it’s also probably a safe bet that most people would assume that a lot of different performers have been inside the costume since Sesame Street began in 1969. But most people would be wrong. And that is the incredible story of Caroll Spinney, the man who is Big Bird.
It would be easy to dismiss I Am Big Bird as just another Sesame Street documentary following in the footsteps of Being Elmo. It’s a fair point. How many “behind the puppet” documentaries does the world need? Well, if they’re all up to the standards of I Am Big Bird (and Elmo before it) then I’d happily watch one for every character on the Sesame Street roster.
Spinney’s story is a genuinely moving and sweet one (as you’d probably expect from this sort of film) but it also isn’t afraid to talk about the darker aspects of Spinney’s life. The film charts Spinney’s early life and work, before being brought in by Henson to bring both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life, and the 45 years since he started playing the characters.
Like most people, I genuinely knew nothing about Spinney and I think, for me, that the documentary (which was partially funded by the fans) played better for it. That’s not to say that those who know about Spinney and his life will get less from it. Hearing the man himself - and those who know him - talk candidly about the highs and lows is genuinely engaging stuff; moving, inspiring and funny.
Special Features: None