BEING ELMO: A PUPPETER’S JOURNEY
The American Dream Can Come True
Release Date: October 21, 2011
Audience: Older children to adults
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 80 minutes
Distributor: Submarine Entertainment
Executive Producer: None
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Kevin Clash grew up poor and African-American in Baltimore. He dreamed of becoming a Muppeteer – a puppeteer for The Muppets – from his earliest childhood, then went on to achieve his dream by becoming the first black Muppeteer and the performer behind Elmo, one of the most popular Muppets of all time.
This is a great movie for any documentary fan who wants to gain insight into a positive, entertaining subject. This makes it a refreshing change of pace from most documentaries these days, which appear to focus on corruption, war, and other tragedies.
BEING ELMO features Clash prominently. The soft-spoken and joy-filled Clash takes the cameras back to his humble beginnings in a poor urban neighborhood. He recounts his childhood and shows film and direct examples of his own puppet-making efforts growing up. Those efforts display his incredible focus, hard work, and near-scientific attention to detail and learning how to make puppets just as well as his idols. He also entertained children at his mother’s daycare center.
The hard work pays off as he became the first black Muppeteer ever, and went on to become the life force behind the vastly popular “Sesame Street” character Elmo. Because of his success, Clash produces and directs things for “Sesame Street,” and travels around the globe training other puppeteers.
Along the way, lots of photos and footage offer a parallel history of “Sesame Street” and the Muppets as well as Muppet inventor the late Jim Henson. They show the effects that worldwide fame had on this shy and private man. Although Henson always remained upbeat and positive, he was driven by the awareness that he always has to create a positive image and message for his youngest fans.
Quality-wise, BEING ELMO suffers a little bit for being rather rudimentary in its approach, without a lot of stylistic flourishes. That said, BEING ELMO is the kind of documentary that can inspire any viewer, but especially children, to aspire to great things and do the hard work to pursue them. It’s a wonderful picture of the American Dream in action. During the end credits, there’s a catchy song that credits Kevin Clash’s talent as coming from Heaven.
BEING ELMO suffers a little bit for being rather rudimentary in its approach, without a lot of stylistic flourishes. That said, BEING ELMO is the kind of uplifting documentary that can inspire any viewer, but especially children, to aspire to great things and do the hard work that’s required. It’s a wonderful picture of the American Dream in action. During the end credits of BEING ELMO, there’s a catchy song that credits Kevin Clash’s talent as coming from Heaven.