Monday, August 31, 2015

"I Am Big Bird" Bonus Features Blu-ray Review!

"I Am Big Bird" finally arrived on DVD and blu-ray earlier this month. The blu-ray being an exclusive to those that contributed to the Kickstarter campaign to fund the film.

The cover comes signed by Caroll Spinney and the bonus features are exclusives to the blu-ray.

Throughout the making of the film, the filmmakers mentioned how much footage they had to go through and that there would be whole separate blu-ray for the bonus features. 

Before it's release the filmmakers announced that the entire package would only be one disc instead, noting:

Jun 29 2015
"We also wanted to let you know that if you ordered the 2-disc Blu-Ray it will only be ONE DISC. This doesn't mean that there are fewer special features--it just means that all of the stuff we promised fit on one disc, so rather than clutter up your life, we put it on one disc. Eco-friendly and whatnot."

So ALL the planned footage is going to fit on the same disc as the feature? I was skeptical, and rightly so. 

This is the final list of Bonus features as listed on the package:

First, let me say that while I was looking forward to seeing more of Caroll and Deb's video footage, the best feature on the disc is their commentary with the directors. It's one of the best commentaries I've heard in a long time. Insightful, sometimes scene specific, but also giving more information about what's going on and around the pivotal moments we see in the film. 

The rest of the bonus feature section consists of 14 clips, ranging from home movies to professional appearances. Sadly, there is no play all option and each time you finish a clip, the menu returns to the first option - at least for the first half or so at least

The first clip entitled "Deb's Song" is spectacular. It's heartfelt and hilarious, featuring a screw up that reminds me of the story of how Carroll got the job for Sesame Street.

The second, "The Crazy Crayon" is equally fascinating as it's a show I never heard of before from the 50s or early 60s that features animation by Caroll. Some of it is seen in the finished film, but it's nice too it in its full context.

"The Goon Show" is comprised of clips of Carol's own personal TV show that he would perform with his family. It's cute and thankfully only lasts a few minutes, but you could easily see how it could have dragged on if more was included. I know the filmmakers had to sit through hours of it and I'm glad they picked just the best clips to show us Caroll's imagination and use of zero budget special effects.

The selection "Carroll on Camera" is Caroll talking about times when he had walk on roles as neither Big Bird or Oscar, yet there are no clips or images shown.

"Training Chinese Big Bird" shows the process of finding and training the Chinese Big Bird.

"Finding Oscars Name" gives a new contact to the story we've heard about coming up with Oscar's voice but as the title implies this gives a new dimension to how Oscar got his name.

"Big Bird Biggest Fan" is a heartwarming tale about a young man with special needs that has a personal connection with Caroll.

"Carol and Michael Jackson" talks about Michael Jackson's appearance on the Sesame Street Christmas Special and you would think there would be a clip or a picture or something to supplement the story, but just like with "Carroll on Camera" there isn't. Not even a still or cover of the DVD. It's quasi insightful about what Michael Jackson 
envisioned his life to be, but disappointing nonetheless.

The bonus features video highlight by far- and you can tell it's going to be just from the title - is the behind-the-scenes home movies from Follow that Bird. It's exactly what I wanted to see from these bonus features, and I wish there was more of. The shots of Richard Hunt acting goofy - just as you always hear he did, were amazing to see. I didn't want that feature to end. Sadly it's only about 5 minutes long. 

You can see some of it here:

For the three years worth of home movies the producers culled through to make the film, I was hoping for a little more behind the scenes footage from the Follow that Bird or Muppet Family Christmas that we see in the film.

That being said, the film, commentary, and what little behind the scenes footage is on the disc are fantastic I was just hoping for a little of the "much, much, more" as touted from the filmmakers and on the cover. 

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