Review: “I am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story” Is Exactly What I Needed
Let’s be honest: things in the outside world are a little hectic right now, and that’s putting it mildly. Where Facebook used to be something I could scroll through to see funny pictures of animals or have someone turn me onto new music has now been transformed into people’s soap box with which they declare their feelings for everything they’re against. The news, the music industry, Hollywood, even awards shows have decided to shift from getting your mind off of the things that bother you into a rallying cry to start the change we want. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for all of it. My only problem is I have no means of escape from it all anymore. That is until I turned on “I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story”.
For an hour and thirty minutes, this documentary on the man that resides inside the Big Bird costume transported me from every problem I’m facing into a world where things are still good. It’s not why I chose to watch it, and it’s definitely not something I was consciously realizing while watching it, it’s just what took place. I have known Big Bird my entire life. He may actually be my first best friend, if you don’t count the imaginary ones I swore were running around our house. Him and his friends that resided on Sesame Street made learning fun and they even taught me stuff I may not have fully comprehended at the time but definitely used later on in life. Big Bird is this obnoxiously yellow, giant puppet, and that’s most likely what made me stop and listen to him as a kid. This documentary gives me a look at the man that brought him to life, the man that cared about Big Bird as much as I did as a child, and the lengths he had to go to in order to make him appear on my television screen on a weekly basis.
This documentary isn’t all fun-and-games. We see the hardest parts of this man’s life play out: from the trouble on the set, to the self-doubt, to the end of his marriage that almost crushed him. While all of that may seem a little heavy given the subject of the documentary, it’s how Caroll dealt with these adversities that is inspiring and gives you that feel-good moment again and again. Even when times were the toughest, Caroll never gave up and, instead, escaped into his character in order to deal with a lot of the hard times he was facing down. I realized, while watching this movie, that Big Bird and Caroll Spinney are one in the same. While Big Bird may have more of a child-like wonder to him, Spinney was just as hopeful that everything was going to turn out just fine. It’s people like Spinney that we don’t come across all that often in our every day lives; making him just as magical and inspiring as the character he breathes life into.
While this documentary released three years ago, it was one that I missed and a lot of other people may have, too. But it’s also one you should go and watch now. It’s one that I don’t think I could have appreciated as much as I did even six months ago so I stumbled upon it at the right time. This film is exactly what I needed, and I think it’s exactly what we could all use at this point in history.
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is streaming now on Amazon Video.