Happy Muppet Monday, friends! We’re going to switch gears today and focus on someone who is a Muppet but not part of the Muppet crew I normally talk about. If you haven’t guessed from the title, today we are going to chat a little bit about Big Bird and his movie Follow That Bird.
This movie holds a very special place in my heart because it was one I used to always watch at my grandma’s when my sister and I were little. In fact, a few Christmases ago, I gifted my sister a copy of DVD and we all choked up a bit.
Now with news of a new Sesame Street feature film and a documentary about Big Bird’s Caroll Spinney, I decided to sit down and watch Follow That Bird again for the first time in years on the Instant Netflix. (You should too!)
The premise of Follow That Bird is basically about the Evil Miss Finch who realizes Big Bird is 6 years old and living in Sesame Street with people who are not “his own kind” so she convinces him to move to Ocean View, IL with the Dodo family. His friends at Sesame Street are devastated but try to be happy for him… and Big Bird tries his best to make due in a strange and bizarre family (one that doesn’t understand imagination!) but he really just wants out. Of course, his old pals are already swooping in to save him.
It’s a ridiculously cute movie that features some catchy songs, Maria wearing skinny jeans & flats and looking super hip according to today’s standards, and a totally stereotypical Dodo family… not the smartest bulbs.
One noticeable difference between 1985’s Sesame Street and present day was the lack of Elmo. Now, if you’ve seen Kevin Clash’s documentary, Being Elmo, you may know that Elmo went through some changes before he became the cuddly, lovable high-pitched monster we know today. I only caught sight of him once at the end of the movie and he didn’t even have a speaking part. (In fact, Grover seems like the popular, cute one in this film.)
Another highlight were the celebrity guests including Chevy Chase as a newscaster who cannot Sesame Street correctly and talks to the people watching him and country singer Waylon Jennings who duets with Big Bird on a dirt road. Later, John Candy plays a cop.
Big Bird is a delightful character who is sensitive and silly but is also creative and has a strong love for his friends and the family he has made on Sesame Street. He’s a young bird and you have to forgive him when he says “Isn’t flying wonderful? It makes me feel like a bird.” when he is on a plane to his new home in Illinois. Plus, like a young Estelle, he has a Teddy Bear that never leaves his side and knows about packing essentials: scuba gear.
The rest of the characters are a hoot a minute: Ernie & Bert fly a plane to seek out Big Bird (not a ride I would be willing to take), Count drives a distinctly him car (with wings), Cookie Monster ditches the cookies and instead eats part of the vehicle he is driving in. There’s even a guest appearance by puppeteer and costume designer, Kermit Love, at the end. Did you spot him? (He actually designed Big Bird’s costume back in the day.)
And like the geeky Muppet fan I am, I was so happy to see Kermit the Frog in his trench coat “reporting” first hand news. If that’s not reason to pick up Follow That Bird, I don’t know what is.
Here’s wishing you an Easy Going Monday!