Over fifty very famous American and Canadian funny people (filmmakers, writers, actors and comedians) share life and professional journeys and insights, in an effort to shed light on the thesis: Do you have to be miserable to be funny?
Shannon Whisnant purchased a grill at an auction. Inside the grill was an amputated leg. What follows is a story centered on the enterprising Whisnant and John Wood, the man whose leg wound up in the grill due to an odd chain of events.
In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.
A celebration of the musical work of a group of session musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew", a band that provided back-up instrumentals to such legendary recording artists as Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and Bing Crosby.
Think you know everything there is to know about Sesame Street? You don't. You might know that Frank Oz turned down an offer to play Big Bird, but you probably don't know that until a last minute change of heart by NASA, Big Bird was supposed to go to space aboard the Challenger. Or you may know that Oscar the Grouch got his voice from a cantankerous cabbie, but you'd be surprised to learn that a fire in his trash can almost led to Caroll's untimely demise. Caroll's stories are the stuff of legend. He has been a constant presence in our lives for over 40 years, his path weaving through American history like that of Forrest Gump. His time inside the Bird has taught him about the world and about himself. I AM BIG BIRD will peel away the instances in Caroll's life that inspired his creation of characters that influenced generations of children. And, as the yellow feathers give way to gray hair, it is the man, not the puppet, who will steal your heart. Written by
Sesame Street was an integral part of my childhood. Sure, I had Mr Rogers, Sharon Lois & Bram, and Mr. Dress-Up too, but Sesame Street was by far my favourite show. I remember rushing downstairs in the morning to watch Big Bird and all his pals have fun, I remember begging my parents to buy me an stuffed Elmo doll, hell I even remember my parents rummaging through my aunt and uncle's attic to find VHS tapes of when they had taped Sesame Street off the TV for my cousins when they were kids back in the 80s. I was a nut.
This documentary is based around the life of Caroll Spinney, the man who plays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street. It not only does a fascinating job of chronicling his life as an actor, but the discourse pertaining to his philosophy on life, and how he translated that into the Big Bird who we all know and love. We get to know Big Bird like never before, on the part of Caroll Spinney as himself, Caroll Spinney as an actor and Caroll Spinney as Big Bird. It's wrapped in these fantastic layers that might seem daunting in text, but when the movie is over with, you go "My god, that makes perfect sense!". It showcases how Spinney really is one of our most remarkable and unseen actors of our age, and how delicate (metaphorically, of course, playing Big Bird as a puppeteer is a task and a half) his performance has been on to generation after generation of kids.
The movie also goes into detail on the journeys that both Big Bird and Spinney have had in their life - such as being the first Western pop culture (with Bob Hope) to venture into China after it opened it's doors, becoming a household name in America, and, one of the biggest shocks and surprises, nearly taking part with the crew on the NASA Challenger spaceship, which of course exploded a minute after launch, killing all on-board.
This movie is why I love being immersed in pop culture. There's a lot of people who have told me over the years that it's a bad thing to be surrounded by commercial products, but this movie packs a punch in that it personally warps me back to a simpler time, a time when my bestest friend was Big Bird and he taught me how to love the world.
Sure, I Am Big Bird has it's flaws. I would have liked for it to go deeper into the darker parts of some of the times of Caroll Spinney's life, but in the end I think that it would detract from the overall magic of the movie. I Am Big Bird is a heartwarming documentary for fans of puppeteering, but at it's core, an even warmer story for us who grew up with that lovable yellow bird.
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