Birdman overtook Boyhood as the favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars sometime in early January, and the reasons it did make sense: It’s a movie about the tortured genius of a mainstream creative person who longs to be taken seriously as an artist–a theme that certainly resonates with the Academy–with a dark edge of loss, drug abuse, and suicide to ensure that the film itself is as tortured as its protagonist. If there’s one thing Hollywood loves, it’s stories about Hollywood.
Stories like that don’t tend to do as well on children’s public television, though. Which maybe makes Birdman an odd movie to get a spoof on Sesame Street–but when you have the potential for a title like “Big Birdman,” you probably just have to take it.
The parody is surprisingly well-done, with Caroll Spinney–who’s voiced Big Bird since 1969–playing both himself and his iconic yellow alter-ego in the 90-second short. It plays up the jazz drumming score and makes use of the same continuous tracking shot that Alejandro González Iñárritu built Birdman around, and explores the same sort of existential crisis that Michael Kaeaton’s character struggles with in the film, in ways that are hilariously subversive. (“How many different ways can you learn the alphabet? Lots, apparently.”) It also represents what we are going to go ahead and guess is the first instance of Raymond Carver’s name being mentioned on Sesame Street. Presumably this spot confused all of the kids who watched it, and–given that Birdman only took in $36 million at the box office–probably around 2/3 of the adults, too. Still–what price a great orange pants joke?