I Am Big Bird – Film Review

Score

The moving story of 81-year-old puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who has played 'Sesame Street''s Big Bird since 1969

Eighty-one-year-old puppeteer Caroll Spinney has played Sesame Street‘s Big Bird since 1969. Inspired to make this documentary after working in the show’s New York offices, director David LaMattina uncovers the man beneath the costume. Spinney’s life is a tale of hardship, and I Am Big Bird is compelling because of that. The son of an abusive father, Spinney was bullied at school. Work as a puppeteer led to a meeting with Muppets creator Jim Henson and a job on Sesame Street‘s first series. Interviews with co-stars and family play out over Spinney’s home videos as we learn of his divorce, depression and suicidal thoughts. The heartache that drives this story is captured best when Spinney’s eyes moisten as he recalls an on-set moment when “I was crying inside the costume. Inside I was dying.”