HTF REVIEW: "Follow That Bird" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 9, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    Follow That Bird

    This review is being brought to you by
    the letter A, which stands for
    AVOID buying this DVD, unless you
    have kids! My rant begins in a moment....
    My interest in Follow That Bird is
    sort of sentimental. Back in 1985, at the
    age of 22, I was working at a local movie
    theater when this first film from the folks
    at Sesame Street was released. Anyone that
    has worked at a movie theater can tell you
    the dread that goes along with "Kiddie Movies".
    Nothing like a theater full of noisy, restless
    kids. This film was my first experience at
    being thrown in that ugly situation.
    Having to babysit an auditorium of kids, I
    was forced to watch Follow That Bird
    for more times than any human my age should
    have been allowed. Strangely enough, the
    film didn't grate my nerves. Being a fan of
    the Muppet films, I found myself enjoying this
    movie more than hating it.
    [​IMG]
    Follow That Bird is the story of every
    kid's favorite Big Bird (Carroll Spinney) who
    leaves his nest at Sesame Street to live with
    his "own kind". His "own kind" happen to be the
    Dodo's, a family that adopts Big Bird, giving
    him all the comforts of home. Unfortunately,
    these Dodo's lack any of the imagination and fun
    of the friends that Big Bird left behind, and
    thus, he runs away on foot back to Sesame Street.
    When the runaway bird gains national attention,
    the cast from Sesame Street sets out on a
    cross-country rescue to find Big Bird. Can
    they find him before Ms. Finch or the notorious
    Sleaze Brothers find him first?
    [​IMG]
    The film is cleverly written with some really
    funny moments that will have adults smiling as
    children chuckle. Most of this comes from the
    help of the many nifty cameos from the likes of
    Chevy Chase, Sandra Bernhardt, John Candy,
    Waylon Jennings and more. You'll love the
    Bert & Ernie spoof of "North By Northwest" as
    well as the "Don't Drop Inn" scene where a
    grouch's version of tossed salad takes on new
    meaning.
    What is wrong with this DVD?
    (Formally known as "How is the Transfer?")
    This DVD slid under the radar when it was
    announced as being presented "Standard Version"
    only. I think Warner got away with releasing the
    DVD with little objection mostly because this is not
    a film with as huge a fan base as "Willy Wonka" had.
    Still, what the hell is Warner Brothers doing?
    There seems to be this conception by the
    studios that kids don't want their movies in
    widescreen. This is a load of hogwash. From
    all the feedback received from parents of this
    forum, it's obvious that kids don't really care
    if the black bars are there or not.
    Shouldn't we be teaching our children the
    benefits of widescreen from the moment they
    watch their very first movie?
    [​IMG]
    If I were a kid, I would very cheated by this
    DVD both in the fact that it is presented open
    matte, and, the fact that the transfer is not
    quite up to snuff.
    The transfer quality of this DVD is all over
    the map. From the opening moments when Oscar
    the Grouch does his Patton speech, you can see
    so much video noise in the picture it's
    frightening. Watch the red and white color
    bars of the American flag and see how they
    constantly shift their color hues.
    The few animated sequences of this film are
    also horrid to look at. It looks like something
    off of VHS.
    [​IMG]
    As a matter of fact, despite the fact that in
    a few places the transfer actually does look
    decent, most of the film's transfer is filled
    with picture noise or picture dirt. It's as
    if Warner Brothers said, "ahhh, the heck with
    cleaning this up, Kid's won't care!".
    The DVD sports a Dolby Surround track that
    is surprisingly active. The rears are used
    mostly for enhancing the film's music, but there
    are a lot of great effect noises that more than
    often, get thrown to the rear speakers.
    Special Features
    Though there's a menu specifically designed for
    the kids (using a GO icon to navigate), there
    isn't anything here to really keep a kid's interest
    other than a Jump To A Song feature that
    allows kids to play back their favorite song
    scenes in the movie.
    The film's Original Trailer is presented
    in windowbox format.
    Final Thoughts
    This DVD is an insult to both kids and adults.
    Not only has Warner not given us an anamorphic
    presentation, but they also gave no consideration
    to the overall picture quality of this DVD.
    If you have young kids who enjoy Sesame Street,
    then this is a no-brainer to buy.
    Adults, on the other hand, should skip this DVD
    altogether. It's small entertainment value will
    be diminished by your strong anger over its shoddy
    presentation.
    Release Date: March 26, 2002
     
  2. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Thanks, Ron...good information and well spoken.

    In another thread there came up the question of Elmo's voice. It was said that in this film was Elmo's debut, but with a very different voice than that of Kevin Clash's, who later made Elmo's voice famous.

    Does this DVD definately have the Kevin Clash voice dubbed in, or is it still that of the original actor's (Richard Hunt, I think it was)?
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I figured out why WB transfered this at 1.33:1...

    I used my image editing program (and those screenshots) to test different mattes:

    1.85:1 - Really cramped and off balance image.

    1.78:1 - Ok, but still a notch away from being too cramped.

    1.66:1 - perfect.

    There it is. It seems to be made for 1.66:1 and we all know that WB doesn't do anamorphic 1.66:1 yet.

    I had a feeling that the DVD would still be crummy...they probably used the previous laserdisc transfer.
     
  4. Chad Gregory

    Chad Gregory Supporting Actor

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  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Somehow the screenshots always look

    better than the real thing. I suppose

    it's because you are sizing down the image.

    As I stated, the transfer is all over the

    place. Some of it looks good, but a lot of

    it also suffers from excessive video noise.
     
  6. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    This movie was most likely shot hard-matted- I have the CED videodisc and it's definitely cropped. The first "Muppet Movie" was shot full-frame, and the original laserdisc from 1981 shows a LOT of stuff you're not supposed to see (mostly people's arms coming out of the puppets!)
     
  7. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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  8. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    They quit making the players at the end of 1984, but they kept putting out new releases until 1986- they had planned to do that for a few years longer but sales just weren't strong enough. "Follow That Bird" was one of the very last releases; THE very last one was "Jewel of the Nile". Later titles usually were re-used covers with new cover art stuck on over an older cover.
     
  9. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Wow, Jesse, I didn't realize they were still pressing them as late as 1986!
     
  10. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    I know that this has been discussed in another thread, but I never got a clear answer. What, exactly, is up with the release date? Our local Best Buy has had this disc for several weeks now, yet several places still list the release date as March 26. Is this the same disc or what? Thanks for any info anyone can give.
     
  11. Gavin_L

    Gavin_L Second Unit

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    thanks ron wonderful review, this was one of my favorite movies as a little child, brings back so many memories of having it released on dvd, I'll be picking it up
     
  12. John Torrez

    John Torrez Second Unit

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    Umm, maybe some of you guys didn't really read the review. The dvd is not in it's OAR, avoid it at all costs please! Buying it is just gonna send the wrong message to Warner Brothers.
     
  13. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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  14. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    I really wanted this title too. Sort of a "sleeper" muppet movie that really is cute, fun and has that well-put-together feel of other muppet movies which, while they please the kids, are really meant by adults for adults.
    Without OAR and 16x9 I just can't do it.
    <sarcasm>Thanks Warner. Why don't you give me another South Park theme-compilation to rub it in while you're at it.
    -dave
     

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