"SESAME STREET PRESENTS: FOLLOW THAT BIRD"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Caroll Spinney as BIG BIRD/OSCAR
Jim Henson as KERMIT/ERNIE
Frank Oz as COOKIE MONSTER/BERT/GROVER
Sandra Bernhard as GROUCH WAITRESS
John Candy as STATE TROOPER
Chevy Chase as NEWSCASTER
Joe Flaherty as SID SLEAZE
Waylon Jennings as TRUCK DRIVER
Dave Thomas as SAM SLEAZE
Available on DVD March 24
Official Kids WB site
Studio: Warner Bros.
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After several extremely successful Muppet Movies, the Children’s Television Workshop brought it’s classic television series “Sesame Street” to the big screen. Big Bird stars in “Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird.” The story follows Big Bird who has been targeted by a meddling social worker that thinks he needs to be with other birds. After being adopted into a family of Dodos, Big Bird decides to return to Sesame Street. But his friends from back home are already trying to bring him back, and two sleazy brothers want to cash in on his sideshow potential.
WHAT I LIKED
As someone who remembered when this film came out (I was only 13 at the time), I felt kinda old seeing that this is a 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. However, knowing that it came out in the mid-1980s made it that much more special to me. Sure, I was quite a bit too old to have seen it in the theaters. I was more into films like “Witness,” “Back to the Future,” “The Breakfast Club” and “A View to a Kill” that year.
Now, watching “Follow That Bird” with a fresh eye as a parent who enjoyed “Sesame Street” when I was a kid, I really did enjoy it. Being from the mid-80s, the show still had the freshness from my childhood. Now, “Sesame Street” has become a bit too much of an institution, with all the healthy eating choices that Cookie Monster makes and whatnot. Looking back 25 years, this movie retains the innocence of a time when Elmo wasn’t at center stage, Snuffleupagus was thought to be imaginary and Jim Henson was still alive.
Having watched “Sesame Street” in my youth, I fully appreciated the new scope of this film. Like the preceding Muppet Movies, “Follow That Bird” took the characters out of their television format. Even though it used all the characters from the show, things were presented in a more cinematic light. There was depth to Ernie and Bert’s apartment. There was a greater life to that of Oscar the Grouch. And Big Bird got a chance to leave the faux cobblestone street set and travel this great country.
If you have kids, check this one out for nostalgia’s sake and a chance for them to see the Children’s Television Workshop in its younger years.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
I have a critic friend of mine who fancies that “Follow That Bird” is a rudimentary Communist manifesto masquerading as a kids’ show. He makes a good case, but couldn’t this be said about all things “Sesame Street”?
I’m being sarcastic. What’s not to like about “Sesame Street” in its pre-Elmo spotlight days? Lighten up, critics!
The 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition DVD includes a new interview with the man behind (or rather in) Big Bird, Caroll Spinney, in which he talks about how he developed the character and the voice, and how he gave a static Muppet emotion.
There’s also the theatrical trailer, some sing-along songs and a Jump-to-a-Song feature which accesses all seven songs in the film. Finally, for those with access to a DVD-ROM, you can print out coloring sheets for your kids to enjoy.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Children... and grown ups nostalgic for the “Sesame Street” of their youth.