Being Elmo (3 stars)

Being Elmo

Photo: Scott McDermott

A revealing and heartfelt insight into the work of Kevin Clash, the man behind the puppet

(tbc) 80min

The recent Muppet movie and attendant hype has reaffirmed the peculiar genius of Jim Henson’s life’s work: that is to say, even when we can literally see the wires, even when we know we’re looking at manipulated felt and hearing actors’ disembodied voices, Muppets inescapably seem like sentient beings. It’s difficult to accept that Kermit isn’t an actual individual and possible future friend; and millions of children worldwide feel the same way about a later-minted Muppet, Sesame Street’s almost-too-adorable scarlet baby fuzzball Elmo.

This documentary lifts the curtain on the creator of this little phenomenon: Kevin Clash, a likable self-taught puppeteer who made his way into Henson’s kingdom by sheer talent and force of will. It’s not a deep work, and it has some sloppy elements (Whoopi Goldberg’s offhand narration being one), but it’s a charming celebration of a devoted, talented creator getting the love he deserves. It’s also a revealing insight into the Henson universe, and a winning study of the hard work that goes into turning fake fur and plastic eyeballs into an international craze.

Selected release from Fri 27 Apr.

iW Exclusive: "Being Elmo" Trailer

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • US
  • 1h 16min
  • U
  • Directed by: Constance Marks
  • Written by: Philip Shane, Justin Weinstein

Documentary on Sesame Street's almost-too-adorable scarlet fuzzball Elmo, and the likable and driven puppeteer Kevin Clash who turned him from a minor character into a breakout phenomenon. Although not especially deep, it has great charm and some interesting insights into the extraordinary Henson universe.

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