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Review: Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

Love from The Man and The Muppet

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey


The name Elmo is recognizable worldwide. The furry, sweet, and cute red puppet is an icon, but do you know who the man is that gives Elmo his signature voice? Being Elmo: A Puppetteer's Journey introduces us to Kevin Clash, the first African-American to work as a Muppeteer and the heart and soul of Elmo. He came from Baltimore with a dream to work with Jim Henson and now is a pivotal piece in the Sesame Street puzzle.

As a kid, Clash was inspired by television shows such as Captain Kangaroo and, of course, Sesame Street, and his passion became making puppets and letting them come to life. He watched and observed what he saw on these shows and spent a lot of his high school days perfecting his craft. He got his big break by performing his puppeteering on a local TV show and from there the sky was the limit. Or for his case it was working with the one and only Jim Henson. Not only does Clash get to meet and work for him, but they form a friendship before Henson passed away.

Directors Constance Marks and Philip Shane put together a captivating and engaging documentary for all ages. It is a gentle, sweet, and inspiring story about a man who pursued his dreams and achieved it. Now this doesn't mean he hasn't made sacrifices or missed some valuable time with his daughter because he has. It hasn't been easy and making puppets in high school is certainly going to get you teased and made fun of, but Clash lets nothing or no one stand in his way, and has amazing support from his parents which some children are not lucky enough to get. Seeing how much Elmo means to Clash is heart touching, but what Elmo means to kids is just mind-blowing. And when a sick child's one wish is to meet Elmo, Clash still can't believe he gets to play a part in making it come true.

This documentary is infectious and moving on so many levels. Clash is a genius when it comes to his puppeteering, but is also just a nice, genuine guy who loves what he does. He carries on the dedication, passion, and magic that Henson started. Being Elmo is uplifting and only proves that you really can do anything you want, but you must have the focus and hard work or you may just keep reaching for a dream and never actually grabbing it. You just can't go wrong with a feel-good film like this, and the fact that it is a true story makes it that much better.