Movie Review: Being Elmo

I’d heard a ton of really good rumblings about Being Elmo, the story about the man behind the muppet–enough that when I saw it pop up on Netflix Instant Watch, I had to see it. No choice about it. Because as much as I’m an old school Sesame Street kind of a guy, I’ve learned to love Elmo by watching how much my kids love Elmo. (Well DC loves Elmo. TRC never liked Elmo, because “he has no teeth.” I don’t know what that doesn’t disqualify all other Muppets, but there you have it. Elmo. No teeth. Can’t be loved.)

So Denisa and I watched the movie last night, and we both really enjoyed it. It’s not a perfect documentary, but it comes close enough to count. Kevin Clash is the man in question, and he always wanted to be a puppeteer. His life is an example of a guy who saw what he wanted, and then just dove in with both feet. Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead. And while they don’t make documentaries about the people whose lives go down in smoldering flames after living according to that kind of mindset, then do make documentaries about Kevin Clash.

He started making his own puppets. Learning by doing. He was obsessed, and the movie traces how he went from that obsession to where he is today. If you’re a Muppet or Sesame Street lover at all, you owe it to yourself to watch this movie.

What did I learn? For one thing, it doesn’t hurt to be passionate about something–to force yourself out of your comfort zone in order to attain your dreams. In fact, I’d be willing to say that if you don’t force yourself out of that comfort zone, those dreams won’t be attained. Dreams don’t land in your lap. You have to work for them–and work hard.

I also learned how important it is to pay it forward. Kevin did a ton on his own, but if it weren’t for some very open, nurturing individuals in his life, he wouldn’t have gotten very far. I really enjoyed seeing how much Kevin does to help new people in the puppeteer industry now. He remembers what it was like, and he’s doing his best to do to others what others did for him.

Finally, I learned that I could never be a Muppeteer. They had a scene where Kevin and Elmo greet and comfort a series of Make-a-Wish children. Children whose one wish was to be able to meet Elmo. And he’s so good with them–able to just be Elmo and be cheerful and happy and comforting and nurturing and . . . I think would just be breaking down in tears the whole time. And I’m not a guy that cries. It’s ironic that in his devotion to helping other children, his own child suffers some in the process–but I’ll let the movie illustrate that.

In any case, it’s a quick watch–just 76 minutes, as I recall. A very nice, uplifting watch. Highly recommended. 3.5 stars out of 4.

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Being Elmo”

  1. this really is an excellent movie, well well well worth seeing. Scary in one way, you want to think Kevin Clash is the next Jim Henson, but then you think a few seconds on how many other things Jim Henson was and realize there can never be a next one. Just a great movie.

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