The Muppets were able to turn their humble beginning on the long-running children’s educational show, Sesame Street, into their own highly successful television show, and eventually a few box office successes as well. At some point, Big Bird must have thought, “If they can do it, so can I,” so he took his own stab at film stardom in the 1985 feature film, Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird.
When the misguided social worker, Miss Finch (played by Sally Kellerman,) decides that Big Bird would be better off with his own kind, she takes it upon herself to relocate the big guy to the faraway town of Oceanview, Indiana. Big Bird soon becomes disenchanted with the family of dim-witted dodos he has been placed with, however, and with homesickness rapidly setting in, he takes to the highway in the hopes of returning to his beloved Sesame Street.
Little does he realize that all his urban buddies have set out in a variety of vehicles to scour the countryside in search of their fine-feathered friend. Before the inevitable reunion can take place, however, Big Bird has to contend with a couple of degenerate con men, Sid and Sam Sleaze (played by SCTV alumni, Dave Thomas and Joe Flaherty.)
And along the way, as was the case in all of the Muppet films, there were plenty of celebrity cameos to make things interesting. Chevy Chase played a newscaster alongside Kermit the Frog, John Candy appeared as a police officer while Waylon Jennings portrayed a truck driver and Sandra Bernhard was cast as an always-grouchy waitress.
While the film was obviously geared towards the youngest of demographics, it turns out they had plenty of money to spend at the box office, and Follow That Bird did respectable business in theaters, enough to give Elmo a chance at the big screen in 1999, in his first feature film, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Meanwhile, Follow That Bird remains firmly perched in the memories of many a former kid, who rooted for Big Bird from the comforts of their theater seats.
Do you remember seeing Follow That Bird as a child? We’d love to hear your recollections of the movie in our comments section, as we tip our hat to Big Bird and his years of public service.