Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

Rated PG 80 minutes 2011

When he was a kid, all Kevin Clash wanted to do was play with puppets. He decided that he wanted to work with Jim Henson’s Muppets when he grew up. And that’s just what he did, going on to create the most beloved character in the history of Sesame Street. Being Elmo isn’t exactly fraught with tension — Clash had supportive parents, and he so devoted himself to puppetry that he couldn’t help but become a very good puppeteer — but, at 76 minutes long, it knows not to overstay its welcome. Knowing when to quit makes all the difference. The film is stuffed with funny anecdotes and interesting Muppet trivia (according to Frank Oz, the key to Miss Piggy is to play her as a truck driver who desperately wants to be a lady). It alludes to problems with Clash’s personal life without diving too deeply into melodrama. And it manages to hit several poignant points with just enough pressure — the worst documentarian in the world could make Jim Henson’s passing into something sad, but a later scene featuring Elmo’s visits with Make-A-Wish kids displays admirable restraint on behalf of the filmmakers — to make the whole thing feel less like a Sesame Street infomercial and more like the biography of one reasonably well-adjusted puppeteer. (76 min.)

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Constance Marks

Producer: Constance Marks, Corinne LaPook and James Miller

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