Film: Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird
Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird
is a 1985 big screen adventure from the educational children's series Sesame Street
. The film follows Big Bird, who is sent to live with a bird family, at the insistence of Miss Finch, an agent working for The Feathered Friends, an organization that places "stray birds" into foster families. Big Bird is keen on the idea of having his own bird family at first, but when he sees that he's not really fitting in with the Dodo family (them disapproving of his friendship with Mr. Snuffleupagus being the final straw), Big Bird runs away to return to his real home on Sesame Street; when the news spread, the Sesame Street gang set out in search to find him.
Along the way, however, Big Bird is also being pursued by Miss Finch, who is determined to send Big Bird back to the Dodos; and Sam and Sid Sleaze, a pair of brothers who run a crooked circus, and decide they want to capture Big Bird and make him their main attraction.Follow That Bird
is one of several travel/road comedy movies of the 1980s, but proves to be a favorite among Muppet fans, and children alike, with its engaging plot, fun songs, and classic character antics from favorites like Ernie and Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster and even Kermit the Frog, among others.
This film provides examples of
- Absentee Actor: Northern Calloway, who played resident cool cat David in the series proper, is nowhere to be seen in this movie.
- An Aesop: The importance of "family", and what the word really means, as well as how there are many different kinds of people (and species) in the world (and on Sesame Street); talked about directly near the end of the movie.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When the Sleaze brothers are pulled over by a state trooper.
Sam: What seems to be the problem, Officer? What's the charge?
Trooper: (Whips out list) What about counterfeiting? Extortion? Fraud? Impersonating a dentist? Stealing an apple from a kid?
Sam: Oh, about that apple, Officer, I can explain that... we was just holdin' for a friend.
Sid: Yeah, for a friend!
Trooper: You can tell that... to the judge.
- Art Shift: Rather than film the movie in the actual studio where the series was taped, a new, more realistic version of Sesame Street was built on location in Toronto; this new version of Sesame Street had considerable amount of scope, that it not only included the locales of the Fix-It Shop, Hooper's Store, and 123 Sesame Street, but we also saw what was across the street, as well as what was at the ends of the street, including a TV repair shop, a family clinic, and an auto garage.
- Canada, Eh? / California Doubling: Because it was easier on their budget, the movie was filmed in Canada; a number of Canadian actors, such as John Candy and Alyson Court, as well as Canadian puppeteers Terry Angus and Gord Robertson, appeared in the movie.
- Celebrity Star: Considering this is mostly a Muppet movie, it's to be expected. The likes of Sandra Bernhart, Chevy Chase, Waylon Jennings, and John Candy all have parts in the movie. Actress Sally Kellerman even dubbed the voice of the movie's Muppet antagonist, Miss Finch.
- Central Theme: Family of Choice, specifically the freedom to keep company with those who make you happy.
- Chekhov's Gag: Cookie Monster eating the Volkswagon, including the hood. in the end this allowed Gordon to get out onto the eaten hood and instruct Big Bird to jump from the truck, even having plenty of room for Big Bird to land.
- Cold Opening: The Grouch Anthem; the logo doesn't even run until the segment is over.
- Color Me Blue: To avoid getting caught for having Big Bird in their captivity, the Sleaze brothers paint him blue, and pass him off as their "Blue Bird of Happiness".
- Cool Car: Oscar's Sloppy Jalopy and Count's Countmobile.
- The Alleged Car: The Volkswagen transporting Gordon, Olivia and Cookie Monster is this by the end of the movie, due to Cookie Monster's extreme appetite. You could also say the same about the Sloppy Jalopy.
- Distant Duet: "One Little Star", except that it's performed by three characters.
- Dysfunctional Family: The Dodos pretty much crank it up to 11.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Big Bird sees a road sign that reads, "No Thru Road"... figuring that's the road he needs to take to head back to Sesame Street.
- Fragile Flower: Sid. The slightest upset is enough to have him bawling like a baby.
Trooper: Be a man!
Sid: (Crying) I don't wanna be a man!
- Food Fight: The scene at the "Don't Drop Inn" descends into this.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Eddie Deezen dubbed the voice of Donny Dodo.
- Logo Joke:
- Let's Get Dangerous:
Gordon: "Big Bird, jump!"
- Meaningful Name: Sam and Sid Sleaze.
- Also, when Big Bird is forced to be their "Blue Bird of Happiness", even though he clearly displays blue emotions when in their captivity, even for paying audiences.
- And the Dodo family is clearly a family of, well, dodos.
- Medium Shift Gag: While not so much a "gag", the brief animation illustrating Big Bird's fantasies of living with his own kind, as well as the opening logo animation, are basically this.
- Missed Him by That Much: Pretty much each of the Sleaze brothers' attempts at nabbing Big Bird, such as them about to catch him in a giant butterfly net, only for Big Bird to coincidentally bend over, missing the net by inches, or when they spot a walking haystack in the field they're driving by, but it's actually Big Bird in disguise to flee from Miss Finch.
- Money, Dear Boy: In-universe, the Sleaze brothers' motivation of capturing Big Bird for their circus is purely for money.
- Negative Continuity: This movie was released in 1985, which was the same year that the adults finally saw Snuffy for the first time on the show, however, this movie is incredibly vague as to whether or not the adults still believe he's imaginary, or if they have seen them, especially considering Snuffy only interacts with Big Bird in the movie. Today's kids watching the movie probably aren't aware of any of this, but it's still an interesting thought.
- Another continuity error with Snuffy is that it's clear on the show that he lives in a cave (as do most Snuffleupaguses), however, apparently in this movie, he lives out in the open on a grassland area.
- No Fourth Wall: Surprisingly, despite the show itself, this movie actually subverts it; with the exception of Oscar's introduction and Count reading the end credits, there is only one scene in this movie where the fourth wall is broken when Big Bird looks at the camera when he meets the Dodos, and says to the audience "Big Dodo!?"
- Oh Crap:
Sam Sleaze: What's the matter, don't you like your cage?
Big Bird: My cage? My cage— MY CAGE?!
- Parental Bonus: Bert and Ernie's plane narrowly missing Big Bird is a parody of North by Northwest.
- Road Movie: Pretty much a trend in the 1980s.
- Scenic Route
- Shout-Out: While Big Bird's friends are watching the news in Hooper's Store, the anchorman gives the weather report:
- During the Count's credit reading, he comes across the executive producer, Joan Ganz Cooney, to which he turns to the camera, waves, and says, "Hi, Mom."
- The two young Dodos are named Donny and Marie.
- Stepford Smilers: The Dodos.
- Theme Naming: The Dodo children are named Donny and Marie.
- Those Two Bad Guys: The Sleaze Brothers.
- Title Drop:
Gordon: Let's follow that bird.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: While on the road, Sid notices a haystack (actually Big Bird hiding from Miss Finch) running and casually points it out to Sam, who just casually remarks, "We're not looking for a haystack!" Justified in that Sam was driving and not looking in the direction of the haystack, ad Sid doesn't actually say that the haystack was moving.
- During the chase at the end, when Sam asks Sid to see if anybody is following them.
Sid: Just a Volkswagen with a hole in the roof and no hood.
Sam: Fine, just keep a look out for anything suspicious.