Parents' Guide to

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Some iffy stuff in touching docu about Sesame Street icon.

Movie NR 2015 90 minutes
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 1 parent review

age 10+

I Am Big Bird really tugs at the heart

I watched this movie with my 10 year old and 3 year old- I assigned it as a homeschool enrichment assignment for my 10 year old, and the 3 year old was along for the ride. This was an endearing and heartwarming look at life and career of Caroll Spinney that doesn’t shy away from the messy parts. There were some moments I cringed for my 3 year old (maybe 5-10 seconds of images/video from the Vietnam War and other tumultuous events of the 1960’s, archival news clips of the space shuttle Challenger blowing up), a few instances of language, a brief description of suicidal thoughts (nothing gratuitous). Mostly it was a great look behind the scenes of Sesame Street, interesting interviews with familiar faces- a satisfying look at a life well-lived. My three year old enjoyed the scenes with the muppets and wasn’t much interested in the rest. I will say she had a strong emotional reaction to a moment where the characters of Sesame Street were mourning the loss of Mr. Hooper. My 10 year old enjoyed the movie, but wouldn’t rank it as a favorite. Probably more interesting for older kids and adults.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Fans of all ages will find something to cherish here, although it should be noted that the movie has some material that makes it inappropriate for the youngest Big Bird fans. I Am Big Bird hits upon the very revealing notion that Spinney's two polar-opposite characters, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, actually represent the two sides of Spinney's personality. Unfortunately, Spinney himself proves to be a fairly elusive interview subject. He's immensely likable, but he's also fairly low-key and doesn't share very many big revelations about himself. The bulk of the movie lies in the interviews with his co-workers and loved ones.

A clash with a former director on Sesame Street seems rather one-sided, though Spinney admits that he learned a lot from the experience. The movie offers many such fascinating behind-the-scenes tidbits -- like just how complicated and physically demanding it is to operate Big Bird and how the show (quite movingly) handled the death of Mr. Hooper back in 1982.

Movie Details

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