Movies You Should See: I Am Big Bird

The Story of Caroll Spinney

“Carroll Spinney (Big Bird) A larger than life character, A Legacy 1933-2019

Bobby Garcia

“Carroll Spinney (Big Bird) A larger than life character, A Legacy 1933-2019

Eric Galan, Reporter

“I Am Big Bird” is the story of Caroll Spinney (1933-2019), the voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch (1955-2018). The documentary looks at his love of puppetry and career in TV and film, particularly on Sesame Street. It is told through interviews, sketch cartoons and old tapes from the Spinney family and TV.

Caroll grew up with a love of puppets encouraged by his mother. Despite having a short-tempered father and being bullied for “playing with dolls,” he managed to stay positive. He eventually left his small Massachusetts town of Acton to join the Air Force.

After serving, Caroll worked on various TV shows and puppet shows, such as Bozo’s Big Top, that made him famous. He would get his big break after a solo show gone wrong when his quick improvising caught the attention of Jim Henson. Henson would invite him to join his new show Sesame Street.

After a few rough episodes, Caroll gives the suggestion of treating his character more like a child instead of an adult. His popularity would explode creating a larger than life character for TV, stage shows and movies. The documentary ends with Spinney’s greatest moments and the legacy he left behind on pop culture.

The documentary has a whimsical tone to it. There’s a magical melody throughout it that gives it a dreamlike feel especially during the parts about his youth or work in China.

However, the score definitely makes dramatic scenes better such as when Spinney and his wife reunite with the little girl they befriended when working on Big Bird in China.

The information about puppeteering and filming is very easy to understand and the best emotional moments tug at the right heartstrings at the right moment. Other moments could be less emotional or more spaced out to keep the documentary from feeling crowded and prevent an emotional whiplash.

For anyone looking for a nostalgic and emotional evening or is curious about what it’s like to be the biggest muppet, both literally and metaphorically, it’s a good watch.

However, some might want to keep the tissues close and come to peace with the sore jaw from smiling too much.