Movie Review-Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

Plot-Plot-Being Elmo is about the rise and success of Kevin Clash, Muppet Elmo’s puppeteer. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg. We watch how a kid with a dream, came from a poor family to follow and achieve his dream.

Review-Review-I am loving the resurgence of The Muppets. While today’s kids are so used to Pixar, 3D and Shrek, I am happy to see shows like Sesame Street and The Muppets start to rear their heads again. It is just that innocent nostalgia. How this film was not on the 2011 Best Documentary ballot is a crime. While I understand the public need to support, and see documentaries about the evils around us, what about the docs about the goodness around us? Kevin Clash now in his 50’s, has made a 40 year career off of puppeteering. This 75 minute look into his life is both touching and at times very funny. You watch a kid with a dream, from very humble beginnings, who is so enthralled by tv. And, one day he cuts up his father’s liner in his trench coat and makes his first puppet. And after they supported that, created more and more puppets and muppets. This story is also about how he overcame being picked on in school to become a success story. How he got to meet Kermit Love who did all the Henson Puppets, and Kermit unselfishly teaches him how to make puppets without seems. How he got his first gig doing Channel 2 with Stu Kerr. And how his parents were always very loving and supporting with him. And how he got to meet his idol Jim Henson. You watch Kevin light up when he talks about Jim. Just like the kids light up when Kevin brings Elmo to meet them.

The scenes with Elmo and the kids was very uplifting and very inspirational. You watch one man who gives his time so unselfishly, gives so many kids and adults so much happiness. So much so, it seems he sacrifices his own, and his loved ones as well. Case in point we learn that he has a ex wife and a daughter who the film hints feels she did not have a lot of time with her dad. To see Make A Wish kids, who their dying wishes are to see Elmo. Unless you have no heart at all, there is no way possible, that you can watch those scenes and not cry. We get to see Kevin’s career, from his stint with Captain Kangaroo to doing Labyrinth. Listening to Kevin tell his story, he has no regrets. But, you sort of get the feeling, that this film did not want to focus on the negative things, that may have caused his divorce or his daughter feeling left out. Esp, since he came from a family that was always loving and supporting, it must have been hard to be a gone all the time parent and husband. It also shows how Richard Hunt gave up on Elmo and passed it to Kevin, who took the character and went with it.

Special Features-There is a eight-minute video of the Q&A session from the Sundance Film Festival, a four-minute interview with Kevin’s fellow muppeteer JohnTartaglia, who went on to star in “Avenue Q” and footage of Kevin and his young protégée, Tau , in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. But the 14-minute “Some Thoughts By the Filmmakers” is the best and uses these interviews to include important deleted scenes, while putting them in context.

If you grew up on the Muppets, this is a must watch. I wish it would have been a little longer and shined a light more into his personal life. For what it was, it was amazing and very inspiring. Though, I feel like we are only seeing half of the story. All in all, highly recommended for both families and kids. This film is recommended to anyone who feels that their dreams are too big and they are too small.

10 out of 10