Today on The Muppet Mindset, we have to guest reviewers from the Muppet Central Forum, Colbynfriends and BobthePizzaBoy. If you would like to contribute an article to The Muppet Mindset, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your idea and we'll discuss featuring it on the blog. Enjoy the article!
Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird
25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
Big Bird is sent off to live with a all-bird foster family, The Dodos, by Miss Finch, a member of the Feathered Friends, an organization catering to the needs of other birds in need. Big Bird soon learns the Dodo’s aren’t who they're cracked up to be and he runs back to Sesame Street. When the news gets back to the neighborhood, all of the residents plan to find Big Bird and bring him back, including Susan, Gordon, The Count, Oscar, María, Bob, and Ernie and Bert. In the end, everyone learns that Big Birds home was Sesame Street all along, because everyone there loved and cared for him.
The menus are nice and colorful. The background music for the main menu is Big Bird singing Easy Goin’ Day from the film. The backgrounds are also full of characters such as Big Bird on the title, Grover on the Select a Scene, and even an appearance by Kermit in his reporters outfit on the Special Features menu, which I thought was a nice touch.
The movie has three different languages to choose from, English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and is subtitled in English for the hearing impaired, as well as Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Chinese. I do have one minor complaint, and it deals with something when you’re on the Special Features menu. Whenever you finish watching one thing, when it goes back to the menu, it skips down to the next option. Some may like this, but others may not, since it throws you off at first because not many DVD's do that nowadays.
Mine came in a standard DVD case (in red, my favorite color) with a slip case to go over it. A bit unnecessary in my opinion, but it helps protect the disc more, so I can’t complain too much. I don’t know about anyone else, but mine came with no insert, which is a real bummer, because I like knowing what chapter is what without going to Chapter Select.
The cover art is well done; the top features a red banner proclaiming this as the 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. Below that is the logo for the movie, Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird, and a big picture of Big Bird. Along the left part of the cover we see Elmo, The Count, Oscar, and Grover as Super Grover peaking out from top to bottom. The back shows a summary of the film, photos of Big Bird, Snuffy, Oscar, Elmo, and Ernie and Bert in their plane.
AUDIO AND VIDEO
The picture is clear and has definitely been remastered. One big improvement is that the movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the first time ever on a home video release. The movie's picture is vibrantly colored, though adding a layer of darker depth to everything filmed, which most everyone will recognize as a difference between the film and original television program. That’s what happens when you go from TV cameras to movie cameras of course, but they still managed to pull it off quite nicely. The audio sound's crisp and clear as well. It sounds so much better than that taped off of TV version that I’m sure some of you had—or still have.
The bonus features on the 25th Anniversary Edition is definitely a big improvement over the older release. Here’s an overview of each feature:
Interview with Caroll Spinney: An interesting retrospective about Caroll Spinney (performer of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch) and his forty years on Sesame Street. Includes thoughts about Jim Henson, the show, and the characters he performs. One complaint is that when they inserted clips from the movie into the interview, the ratio was not consistent to the interview, but I’m sure not many will notice. Overall, a great interview by a truly talented man.
Jump to a Song: This feature pretty much explains itself. Just pick your song, sit back, and enjoy. It’s an alright feature, convenient if anything because you don’t have to fast forward through the whole movie to get to your favorite song, and you don’t have to watch the rest of the film.
Sing-Along: A sing-along feature in the vein of the older Muppet Sing-Along video releases. This time instead of all of the songs, it only offers three: Easy Goin’ Day, The Grouch Anthem, and One Little Star, with lyrics at the bottom of the screen to sing along to. If you’re musically inclined, then you’ll like this feature.
Theatrical Trailer: This is just the trailer for the movie. However, it is a cool thing to have included on the DVD, as you can see how the movie was advertised.
Trailers: Additional trailers include Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The Smurfs, Peanuts: Snoopy’s Reunion, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry Tales, and The Wiggles Present: Dorothy the Dinosaur.
DVD-ROM Features: The disc drive on my computer does not work right, so I can’t access the DVD-Rom features, but its just downloadable coloring sheets, fun for the people who like to color—and have working disc drives.
To be honest, before I got this DVD, I had never really sat down to watch the whole movie—but I’ve got to say this was a great movie. It has great music, a great story, great characters, and great writing. When I watch this movie, I feel exactly what Big Bird is feeling. The DVD itself is a great release. Even if you have the 2002 DVD, pick this one up. The 25th Anniversary Edition blows it out of the water. It’s presented in its original aspect ratio, it has way more bonus features, and the whole movie has been completely remastered.
(out of 5)
By John Papovitch (BobThePizzaBoy from Muppet Central Forum) - Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird is quite an underrated gem. Released in the summer of 1985, it had to primarily combat sci-fi comedy Back to the Future, Disney’s animated The Black Cauldron and a re-issue of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Follow That Bird wasn’t a tremendous success (adjusted for inflation, it only made just under $30 million upon its theatrical release) but has since been embraced by children of the late 80’s and early 90’s as a staple of many families’ VCRs. It’s easy to see why: Follow That Bird is one of Sesame Street’s crowning achievements. It’s a nice and funny movie that deserves to gain an audience.
Just in time for the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street as a show and a year early for the movie’s 25th anniversary, Follow That Bird comes to DVD in a special collector’s edition. The movie is presented in widescreen for the first time since its theatrical release and broadcasts on HDTV stations The DVD appears to be quite a step-up from Warner Home Video’s previous release in 2002, which I personally do not own. But is the DVD worth the double dip?
As stated above, Follow That Bird is presented in its original theatrical 1.85:1 (or, “flat”) aspect ratio. It’s clear that there has been an effort to restore the film as much as possible. I am used to the 2000 VHS release, so seeing it a lot more clearly and less grainy was a breath of fresh air. The movie on its own is great. This is probably the best transfer of the movie out there.
In the extras department, however, this DVD falls flat. First up, the head bonus feature (and the only new feature for this DVD) is an interview featurette with Caroll Spinney. While it is always a delight to hear Caroll speak about his life, very little of it is relevant to the film. Regardless, Caroll does bring up a lot of information that does not appear in his autobiography or other documentaries. Also many photographs from the Henson archives appear that have been seldom-seen elsewhere. It’s not the best DVD extra feature ever, but certainly one of the best extras on the DVD of a Henson film. At least the folks at Sesame Street can acknowledge that their characters are just puppets in their DVD special features, unlike the lackluster bonus features on Disney’s Muppet movie DVD’s.
Next up is sing-along feature. This is not a full-length sing-along video like most sing-along videos promoting kid’s movies are (a song or two from the movie in question with a bunch of songs from other movies mixed in) but rather 3 songs from the movie with lyrics at the bottom of the screen (“Easy Goin’ Day,” “Grouch Anthem” and “One Little Star”).
Then there is a “Jump to a Song” feature, which is simply that, it takes you to the scene that song is in. The fact that there are two music-centric features is a bit confusing, but I’ll accept it. Follow That Bird’s theatrical trailer is also present here. It is a noticeably grainy print of the trailer but it is in widescreen which is a plus. Trailers for other Warner titles are included as well.
So all in all, the Follow That Bird 25th Anniversary DVD, is not the great collector’s edition one would hope for, what with the lackluster special features which bring it down a star, but it’s certainly a must-buy for any Henson fan.
Buy Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition DVD today!