SMC Follows That Bird with Sesame Street’s First Movie

Posted 13 years ago by Movies

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Ah, 1985. The year of my birth, the year Nintendo brought the Famicom to us as the NES, and last but not least, the year Sesame Street released their first full length motion picture: Follow that Bird. Follow me to rediscover the lost delights of this musical adventure or to discover them for the first time. Or, read on if you just really like hyperbole!! And cameos!!

DISCLAIMER: I love the Muppets. In fact, I’d say I probably appreciate them on a much deeper level than you. The Muppet Movie is one of my favorite films of all time. I’m counting down the days until the Power of the Dark Crystal and the Fraggle Rock movies come out. So forgive me if this review is a little biased, what can I say? Jim Henson is one of my heroes. Anyway, on with the movie.

Surprisingly, the movie starts with an intro song by Oscar the Grouch, who is in Patton mode standing in front of a huge American flag.

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In the Grouch Anthem, he reminds us to “stand up for our grouchly rights” and to not “let the sunshine spoil our rain,” but most importantly to “stand up and complain.” This is my kind of patriotism!

Oh, and throughout this review, I’ll be rating the songs featured on the soundtrack.

Song #1 – Grouch Anthem
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Three out of six cameos

Its a cute song. Nothing spectacular, and its pretty short. Carroll Spinney, after already having one of the coolest sounding names ever, also does some of the most unique voices. Have you ever tried to do an impression of Oscar the Grouch or Big Bird? Yeah, me either, but I bet it’d be hard. After the song there’s a cool animated sequence with Big Bird inflating a giant W with a bicycle pump. Just as the significance becomes obvious to you, he says that the movie is brought to you by the letters W and B.

Now brace yourself…
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Meet Miss Finch

If you ever saw this movie in your childhood, you probably have a scary image of Miss Finch buried somewhere deep in your subconscious. She’s the “villain” of the film, and she always creeped me out. I think it’s the dark, pissed off looking brow or her evil, menacing voice, but I’m not sure. Big Bird’s file gets pulled up at the Feathered Friends’ meeting, and Miss Finch makes it her personal mission to rescue him from that dastardly, educational environment. She travels to Sesame Street and convinces the gullible Mr. Bird that he needs to pack his teddy and hit the road, chase-film style.

I always wondered why Big Bird was always six years old, every season. He’s been six for like thirty years now. Think of how cool it would have been if he just aged normally on the show, and was now like forty, and had a third shift job as a janitor at a hospital, and was always depressed because women didn’t understand him. I think that would’ve motivated kids to be successful.

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Anyway, Bird flies to Ocean View, Illinois (doesn’t exist) to live with the Dodos in the most awesome house ever. It’s a giant birdhouse on a long tower, with a cute little door at the bottom. Obviously, the Dodos are very stupid, even to a gullible six year old, and Bird proceeds to run away. He writes a thank you note to the Dodos in perfect six year old style and tells them that he is walking back to Sesame Street, and he figures it will take three hours (since it took two to fly). The folks back at Sesame Street (do they work?) hear the news straight from Chevy Chase’s mouth on TV.

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The hunt is on! Follow that Bird!! Everyone splits up, buddy-movie style, and decides to find Bird before he winds up as dangerously messy roadkill. While everyone’s watching Kermit give the news report of Big Bird’s escape, we get to see a rare glimpse inside the Count’s house.

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I’m not sure why, but I think this is so freakin’ sweet. I just kept imagining the Count as a real person and doing everyday things like buying groceries and using the bathroom. I guess that’s just how my mind works. Hey, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a puppet on a toilet. Somebody get on that!

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Big Bird gets real lost in Indiana. DISCLAIMER: Indiana is not all corn fields, I promise. We have electricity and Internets and Power Gloves just like everybody else. Also, everyone here is not Waylan Jennings, although that would be pretty cool.

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Song #2 – Ain’t No Road Too Long

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Four out of six cameos

My only beef with this song is the whole Indiana thing. Other than that it’s not too bad. It’s not really country, so it’s bearable. Plus, Gordon busts out the soul in the VW bug with Gloria and Cookie Monster. Again, the soundtrack to this movie is awesome, and awesomely cheep, but they did something stupid with it. They put in all this dialogue from the movie, but they added it on the beginnings and ends of songs, so if there’s a song you want to hear, you may have to skip some blah blahs.

For the rest of the review, I’m just going to point out things that are awesome because I think, in the end, we’re all here to see awesome things. I want that on my tombstone. Tommy: 1985-2120: He saw/did awesome things.

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The Count’s Car is awesome. For some reason, the Count is the only one that went on the hunt alone. Everyone else brought buddies. I guess no one wanted to hear him count everything as he drove. Regardless, I would’ve put up with it just to ride in his car.

Song #3 – One Little Star

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Four out of six cameos

A little too sappy, but Snuffy sings. I want an album called “Snuffy Sings.” This song is the classic one-person-looking-at-moon-while-someone-else-looks-at-it-somewhere-else-too song. Big Bird made his way to a farm for this song and is sleeping in the barn, resting up for his performance of the coolest song ever.

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The sun comes up. Bird wakes up and sees the kids pumping water. The only way he can express his feelings is via song. Thus, God gave us “Easy Goin Day.”

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Song #4 – Easy Goin Day

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Six out o six cameos – Perfect Song

This is a song all about taking it easy, and listening to it makes it hard to want to finish this article. I shouldn’t be “working” I should be watering flowers and petting animals and growing things. I should be singing alone with a little girl that can sing better than me. P.S. – the little girl is Alyson Court, who would grow up to be the girl from The Big Comfy Couch, and Lydia from the Beetlejuice cartoon. Anyway, this song is worth the seven bucks for this album.

Sadly, Miss Finch catches up to Bird and he has to make a run for it again. But enough about non-awesome things.

Bert and Ernie’s biplane is awesome. Somehow Bert and Ernie scored a vintage biplane, and the ability to fly it…upside down. Ernie tries to get Bird’s attention with his zany plane acrobatics but he ends up just scaring him away.

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Song #5 – Upside Down World
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Five out of six cameos

This song almost rivals Easy Goin Day in catchiness, but not quite. It’s cool to see the shots where it’s obvious that it was actually filmed in the sky, like the one above.

The Sleaze Brothers are not awesome. Sam and Sid Sleaze are the secondary villains of the movie. Dave Thomas and Joe Flaherty (the heckler from Happy Gilmore) are the too dumb circus owners. They see Bird on the news and decide to capture him to put him on display. Obviously, in a universe where people live side by side with giant Muppets, people would pay dearly to see on in person…I guess. They’re dumb, but not as dumb as Big Bird. They catch him, lock him in a cage, and paint him blue to hide his true identity.

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Song #6 – Blue Bird
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Three out of six cameos

This is the token sad song of the picture. If Big Bird had a scratchy voice and a funny haircut, you could almost call him emo. The S. Street Crew catches up to him and opens the door to the cage, just as the Sleaze brothers drive away (the cage is on their truck).

Moral of the Story: It’s Okay to Jump from a Moving Vehicle if You’ve been Kidnapped (and painted blue)
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Granted, it looks like they’re only going about 12 miles an hour, its still a pretty brave move for a preschool age movie. This movie came out the year I was born, and I don’t remember any of my friends dying trying this, so maybe it didn’t have that much of an impact.

Follow that Bird is a pretty sweet movie. Miss Finch is scary, the songs are cool, there’s some funny jokes. What more could you ask from a Sesame Street film? Oh, and the best part: Elmo is only in it for about .2 seconds, and he doesn’t talk. This is real Sesame Street!