A little late, but here’s a movie for thanksgiving. I was trying to think of some thanksgiving themed movies a few days ago, and came up with this one jokingly (because it stars a giant bird, and the holiday is all about eating a large bird). As I thought about it though, I realized that it did kind of fit, and as I rewatched it I found that it fit even better than I had imagined.
While the Big Bird/turkey connection is mostly just humorous, it does have a certain legitimacy. Beyond that though, the plot of this movie is all about travelling to be with your family, which is very much a thanksgiving (and holidays in general) theme. (It’s also the core theme of Trains, Planes, and Automobiles, which is generally agreed to be a thanksgiving movie.) In addition to these, there’s a scene where Big Bird hitches a ride in a truck hauling ..yep, you guessed it, turkeys. There’s also a scene near the end involving a parade. Turkeys, parades, and travelling to be with family, the only thanksgiving concept this film is missing are pilgrims and Indians.
I saw this movie in theaters when it first came out, and remember loving it. That’s about all that I remembered about it though. I just rewatched it on youtube though (only the second time in my life that I’ve seen this particular movie), and it was actually quite entertaining. It has held up well through the tests of time, and (despite the Sesame Street connection) is not overly childish. This is certainly a great retro film to rewatch with your own kids (especially around the holidays).
For those who haven’t seen it or don’t remember it, this movie is about a group of meddlesome (though well intentioned) old birds who find homes for orphaned birds. They have spotted Big Bird on Sesame Street and decided to place him with a foster family, the Dodos. Big Bird was feeling lonely and thought it was a good idea at first. After spending some time with his new family though, he finds that they have the collective I.Q. of an eggshell. Things come to a head when Snuffleupagus wants to visit him and the Dodos say that he should only have bird friends. This causes Big Bird to run away and go back to Sesame Street (which he thinks should only take about 3hrs on foot, since it only took 2hrs for the plane to fly him there (yes, the bird had to take a plane)). The meddlesome bird from the aforementioned henpecking committee tries to catch him and bring him back to the Dodos, while his friends from Sesame Street try to find him to bring him back there, and a couple of crooks try to catch him for their circus. Being a kids movie, the bad guys get their comeupance and everyone else lives happily ever after, no surprises on that front. One mildly annoying aspect of the movie is the overuse of the “can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street” catchphrase. At least they work it in pretty smoothly though.
This movie has a number of cameo appearances. Chevy Chase appears as an anchorman, Kermit appears as a reporter, John Candy appears as a cop, Waylon Jennings drives the turkey truck, Sandra Bernhard is a waitress, and the farm girl grows up to be the host of “The Big Comfy Couch” children’s show. One thing I find intriguing is that this is a Warner Bros film, but the Muppets are now owned by Disney, WB’s direct competitors. This creates some interesting legal issues with any redistributions of the film.
The film can currently be watched on Youtube in two parts, enjoy: