Big Bird is sent to Oceanview, Illinois, to live with a family of dodo birds by Miss Finch, a social worker who thinks he needs to be with his own kind (other birds, instead of the diverse Sesame Street). His new family thinks exactly the same, even saying Big Bird should have a bird as a best friend instead of Mr. Snuffleupagus. This causes Big Bird much distress.
He soon runs away from there. His Street friends band together to find him. In a Volkswagen Beetle is the group of Gordon, Susan, Olivia, Linda and Cookie Monster. Count von Count departs in his own car, known as the Countmobile. Bert and Ernie go out to search in a plane. Grover flies as Super Grover and later falls into the Volkswagen. Maria leaves with Oscar, Telly and a Honker in Oscar’s Sloppy Jalopy. They all head out across America in search for their beloved Big Bird.
Big Bird has various adventures in his attempt to get home. First he hitches a ride with Waylon Jennings who plays a turkey truck driver. He then meets a pair of kids at a farm who let him stay with them for a while. All the time, Big Bird is being pursued by Miss Finch who wants to take him back to the Dodos. He has to leave the farm because of her arrival.
While out in a cornfield Big Bird is spotted by Ernie and Bert in their plane but when Ernie steers the plane towards him Big Bird runs away scared because he doesn’t know that it’s his friends in it and thinks that it’s Miss Finch wanting to take him back to the Dodos. Ernie turns the plane upside down and begins singing the Upside Down song to which Bert later on joins in but when they turn the plane back up Big Bird is gone and Ernie blames it all on Bert.
Big Bird is also sought by two scam artists, Sid and Sam Sleaze, who operate a lousy carnival, The Sleaze Brothers Funfair. They want to capture Big Bird to put him on display.
Eventually, Big Bird arrives in Toadstool, dubbed “The Mushroom City.” Shortly after arriving, Miss Finch finds him there, and gives chase through the city. On the outskirts of Toadstool, The Sleaze Brothers have set up their funfair, when Big Bird shows up asking if they have a place to hide him from Miss Finch. The two brothers then put Big Bird in their ‘hiding cage.’ Shortly afterwards, they decide to paint Big Bird blue, and tout him as “The Bluebird of Happiness.” However, Big Bird’s performance is not one of happiness, but of sadness, as he sings a song wishing to be back home with his friends.
After the show, two children sneak backstage to see him. Upon noticing them, Big Bird asks them to call Sesame Street to tell his friends where he is. The children do so, and the next day, his friends sneak into the circus tent to try and free him.
However, the Sleaze Brothers quietly wake up, and attempt to drive off with Big Bird in tow. Eventually, Gordon and Olivia give chase and succeed in rescuing him from the truck. Shortly afterwards, the Sleaze Brothers are pulled over by a state trooper (John Candy) who questions them about multiple felonies. Sam tries to cover up the situation, but the officer simply replies “Tell it to the judge”.
When he is finally brought home, Big Bird is happy to be back, but then looks on as Miss Finch arrives, to announce that she has found another bird family for him. Maria convinces Miss Finch that Big Bird can be, and is, happy there on Sesame Street—that it does not make any difference that his family consists of humans, monsters, grouches, honkers, and the other varieties of eclectic species on Sesame Street. What matters is that they are family.
After considering what she’s heard, and realizing how far his friends went to try and bring him back, Miss Finch declares that Sesame Street is Big Bird’s home. Big Bird is also reunited with Snuffy who watched his nest while he was away.
At the beginning of the end credits, Count von Count begins to count the movie credits (in a nod to the original series, Count calls Joan Ganz Cooney, the co-creator of Sesame Street, “mom” when her name is credited as one of the executive producers). By the end of the credits in a brief “bonus scene” Count announces 278 credits and does his trademark laugh accompanied by a thunderclap (no lightning flash was present as was in his usual running gag).
I haven’t watched Sesame Street in quite a few years, but the last clip I caught of it was a mutated version of what I remember from my childhood. They might as well call that thing the Elmo show.
For those of us that can remember that far back, Big Bird used to be “it” character on Sesame Street, which is why they gave him his own movie, Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird.
This is a pretty simple, family oriented film. Nothing fancy. No sex or violence, although I think the Count does make an attempt at a sexual joke, but that may be warped mind twisting a line he gave into something it isn’t.
The real selling point to me is that it features many of the classic Sesame Street characters, including the humans. Many of these don’t even get used anymore, and I think the humans have all moved on, except for a couple that have passed away.
I do have a bit of an issue with the bird society at the beginning that say that Big Bird needs to be with his own kind. It is kind of like a thinly veiled attempt to say that everyone should be with their own kind. With a children’s/family film, one would think if they were going to bring that up, they’d go out of their way to make sure there was a clear moral.
The innocence of Big Bird is priceless. I would have liked to have seen more Mr. Snuffleupagus. Maybe something like he went to save Big Bird from the dodos or shows up and gives Miss finch a big shock when she finds out he’s real or something, but maybe that’s just me.
For those of us that grew up on these characters, this is a great film. They just don’t make them as fun and innocent these days. Heck, if they were to release this today it’d be Elmo dominated (he appears in a window at the end in this one…with no lines) and probably in unnecessary 3D. Thank goodness this was released back when movies were movies and not just ways to make money for greedy studios. I highly recommend this to any and everyone. I dare you to watch it and not come away with a warm feeling in your heart.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars