(au) wrote: Because Child Labour and Slavery Laws Don't Apply If You're a Bird I have no idea why I didn't see this movie until just now. I remember its being in the theatre, and I was about their demographic. My little sister certainly was. I can only assume it was a money issue, because this was just a few years after Dad died. Elizabeth was also at that age where taking a little kid to a theatre is kind of dicey, but after all, it would have been a whole theatre full of kids that age. The IMDB information is kind of vague, but it doesn't look like a whole lot of other people saw it, either. For starters, it lists the movie's having been on one screen its opening weekend. So maybe we didn't see it because it wasn't in wide release, and Mom was not inclined to drive very far to get to a theatre if she could avoid it. On the other hand, I've also owned the movie for a couple of years now and have never actually gotten around to it, so here we all are. This was after Aunt Susie had gotten out of the puppetry industry, too, so we wouldn't have gone to see it to see her work. It was filmed in Canada anyway. I suspect, however, that this movie has in later years gone on to be high on the list of Movies to Plunk Your Kids Down in Front of. Big Bird (Caroll Spinney) is, as we know, happy. He lives on Sesame Street with his friends. (I'm not sure Granny Bird was a character yet, so no family.) However, the Board of Birds and especially Miss Finch (Sally Kellerman) think Big Bird needs to be with His Own Kind. She therefore ships him off to the Dodo family of Oceanview, Illinois, having convinced him that a real bird family would be best for him. Because convincing Big Bird of anything is not exactly your biggest challenge in life. However, he gets to the Dodos' only to discover that he's smarter than they are, all of them, and they basically expect him to drop everything about who he was before joining their family. They won't even let Mr. Snuffleupagus (Martin P. Robinson) visit, and in perhaps the last straw, they want to call him Big Dodo! So he runs away. On the grounds that it took him two hours to fly there, he works out that it will obviously only take three to walk home. All his friends see this on the news and decide that he needs them, which involves rescuing him from both Miss Finch and the nefarious Sid (Joe Flaherty) and Sam (Dave Thomas) Sleaze. While John Candy does have a brief cameo as a motorcycle cop (okay, labeled "State Trooper" in the credits, but it's a [i]Muppet Movie[/i] reference), he's been called in by a kid who has his apple stolen (Richard Campbell). No one thinks maybe getting them involved in tracking down a bird with the mind of a six-year-old is a good idea. In fact, when two little kids (Liston Bates and Tawny Richard) help Big Bird escape from the Sleaze Brothers, they do so by calling Sesame Street. ("Mr. Looper's Store," Big Bird tells them, but they get through okay.) Now, I'm not sure if the Dodos ever legally adopted Big Bird, because I don't know what custody law of eight-foot-tall birds is. However, even if they end up having to fight out the issue in court, isn't that better than risking, well, exactly what happens to him? After all, not all people you hitch a ride with are going to be kindly Waylon Jennings driving a turkey truck. Ruthie (Alyson Court) and Floyd (Benjamin Barrett) are friendly, but what if he'd encountered people who'd rather have him for Thanksgiving dinner? Still, Our Beloved Heroes have to save him on their own, because that's how this kind of movie works. You know, this story does not need Muppets to work. At least not entirely. A kid taken somewhere he doesn't want to go and deciding to find his way home? Okay. The reason it works better with Muppets is the world they inhabit. Never mind the whole swarm of people willing to go a third of the way across the country frankly hoping they'll just sort of run into him. Which you do need. However, what's important here is the fact that the Muppet characters, and even to a lesser extent the human children, live in this world where they are completely self-sufficient. Bert and Ernie? Live alone together. Big Bird? Lives in a nest practically on the street. Snuffie has a family, but he didn't for a long time. He just kind of appeared. Oscar seems to be an adult, and Grover has a mommy, but it's more believable for the six-year-old bird to walk and hitchhike home than a six-year-old human. There's also a pattern in the movies, at least, of Muppet characters' being able to be put into slavery. Sure, the Sleaze Brothers dye Big Bird blue, but that isn't enough to make what they're doing, you know, legal. There's a joke in the movie that most people don't get. In the credits, when Joan Ganz Cooney's name appears, the Count says, "Hi, Mom!" She is often considered the mother of [i]Sesame Street[/i], you see. Back in the '60s, she campaigned hard for the show. She fought Congress for funding for public broadcasting. Chevy Chase as the newscaster quotes the theme to [i]Mr. Roger's Neighborhood[/i], and of course Fred Rogers was in on the beginnings, too. I've read some and watched some lately about the early days of real educational television, and it makes me even more depressed than usual about the state of current educational television. Of course, I blame both executives and parents. There's meddling like crazy in creating "marketable" Muppets these days. However, I don't think parents pay enough attention to what their kids watch, and there are more options for them. I had a friend nearly fifteen years ago who told me with great pride that she left the TV on Cartoon Network when she went to bed so that, if her four-year-old woke up early, she could turn on the TV and watch something appropriate. When I suggested maybe she should leave it on PBS instead, she responded, "But I leave it on Cartoon Network." Turned up to eleven, one assumes.