Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Follow That Bird - 36 Years Later

 Trying to find something to watch recently my wife and I found Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird and decided to give it a rewatch to see how goofy and useless it is. 

Less than 10 minutes in and my heart was broken. 


Where The Air Is Sweet

Muppet movies fall into two categories: The Muppets playing around in the real world or the Muppets doing a parody of a classic story. Follow That Bird follows the former but in between all the silly bits is this sad emotional undertone that just doesn't exist in other Muppet movies. 

The plot is that a group of well meaning birds decide that it's improper for Big Bird to live without other birds on Sesame Street so they adopt him into a family of dodos, creatively named the Dodos. Big Bird says goodbye to his friends and goes to Illinois, where he realizes that dodo stereotypes are founded in truth. After the family tells him that his best friend Snuffy isn't welcome to come visit because he isn't a bird, Big Bird peace's out and decides to walk back to Sesame Street, following the logic that since the plane took two hours to get him there it would only take him three hours to walk back. The gang back home hear that Big Bird has flown the coop (Bird pun) and hop into a caravan of wacky vehicles to find the bird and bring him home. 


The thing is, Sesame Street isn't known for high concept adventure, they're known for teaching kids how to read and count, but somehow without knowing it a jaded 35 year old horror fan found himself emotionally invested in these characters, particularly between Big Bird and Snuffy. I'm not joking when I say that with this film these two should be retroactively added to every bromance post we've ever written on this blog. Not only is Snuffy the catalyst for Big Bird wanting to come home, he's the driving force whenever Big Bird is lost. In most films this role would be taken up by a love interest, but here since Big Bird is six years old the driving force being getting back to his best friend makes far more sense, and is a shot right to the feels. 

To further intensify the sads, the film features songs emphasizing Big Bird feeling lost and lonely, including a medley of all his friends trying to find him. Again, Muppet movies usually have music, but rarely are they this sad or this heartfelt, usually it's Tim Curry dressed as a pirate singing about having cabin fever or Kermit singing about how it's Christmas eve. 

Worth Another Watch

Overall, Follow That Bird was an unexpected treat. What we thought was going to be cheese and muppet jokes turned out to be a solid film about a person who just wants to go where he is loved, and those who love him trying to find him and bring him home. The goofy parts are Muppet gems, and the emotional parts will make you want to call your bestie and let them know how much they are loved. This is a film that hasn't been talked about enough in the last three decades but definitely needs to be brought back into the conversation. 


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