Runtime: 80 mins Director: Constance Marks & Philip Shane Cast: Kevin Clash, Whoopi Goldberg and Frank Oz
Do you know who Kevin Clash is? Well I didn’t until today. He is the man behind Elmo, and is a key figure in the puppeteering business.All my life I have been a big fan of The Muppets and Sesame Street, the only key figure I remember of this industry was the late Jim Henson. From what I discovered Kevin Clash is one of the key members of Sesame Street, the documentary traces Kevin Clash’s rise from his modest beginnings in Baltimore to his current success as the man behind Elmo, one of the world’s most recognizable and adored characters. Millions of children tune in daily to watch Elmo, yet when Kevin walks down the street he is not recognized. Pivotal to the film is the exploration of Jim Henson’s meteoric rise, and Kevin’s ultimate achievement of his goal to become part of the Henson family of puppeteers. In addition to puppeteering Elmo, Mr. Clash is arguably the creative force behind today’s Sesame Street, producing, directing and traveling around the globe training other puppeteers. Includes interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, Carroll Spinney, Joan Ganz Cooney, Marty Robinson, Fran Brill, and Bill Barretta.
Being Elmo is not just a screen adaptation of Mr.Clash’s incredible book, “My Life as a Furry Red Monster.” It is a cinematic adventure that takes you through Kevin’s journey and introduces you to a world of puppeteers who live and breathe to create childhood magic. You see and hear stories about the legendary Jim Henson, who is not just the name sake of a major company, but a real person whom Kevin Clash admired tremendously. You observe clips of the television shows that filled Kevin’s childhood, and gain a true sense of gratitude for the wonder and excitement muppets once brought, and for many people, continue to bring, into our lives. Not only is the arch of Kevin’s career inspirationally depicted, but the film is a cinematic collection of amazing footage. The amount of work that went obtaining rare footage of Jim Henson interviews, old television shows, and Kevin Clash’s audition tapes, as well as the way in which the creative team re-created memories where footage does not exist, makes every last moment as visually relevant and exciting as Kevin’s story is touching and fascinating.
That is not to say that you leave the film wanting to work on Sesame Street. To the contrary, you realize that Being Elmo, or any other muppet for that matter, means holding your arms up for long stretches of time, contorting your body into strange positions to stay out of frame, and not getting personal recognition by the public even when you are the heart and soul of a character who is loved by millions. It is a tough job, and the people who do it make huge sacrifices. But you do leave the theater with a true appreciation for the people who dedicate their lives to teaching and inspiring children through the hand-y-work (pun intended again) of their furry friends. For anyone who has a heart, dream, child, or was a child, do yourself a favor, and let this film restore some of your magical-wide eyed wonder. And never forget, Elmo loves you!!!8.4/10