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Bloor Cinema Release: I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

May 29, 2015

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

I Am Big Bird PosterWho knew that the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch has such an interesting life?  But this is one of the biggest takeaways of the charming I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, which premiered at Hot Docs in 2014, and is finally opening at the Bloor Cinema this weekend.  Tickets and showtimes are right here.

Through archival footage and revealing interviews, I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story introduces us to a more personal side of the iconic puppeteer, from his abusive childhood to his emotional struggles throughout his legendary career on Sesame Street.

We also get moving insight into how fate kept him from boarding the doomed Challenger Space Shuttle in 1986, and a touching segment involving the classic special, Big Bird in China.  The story does lose focus for a few minutes in the last act with the needless mention of a murdered woman’s body being found on his property, a disturbingly abrupt tonal shift that just doesn’t work.

But directors Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker have still managed to craft a heartfelt film, that is refreshingly more mature than audiences might expect.  While offering a fascinating look at the history of the classic show and what goes into bringing these beloved Muppets to life, I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is a mostly inspiring and often unexpectedly emotional look at the man underneath two of the most iconic Sesame Street characters of all time.

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