Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (2011): A Feel Good Documentary

Directed by Constance Marks Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey shows us the journey that puppeteer Kevin Clash undertook to ‘becoming’ Elmo, one of the most popular muppets ever created.

That this is a ‘feel-good’ film is beyond question. I felt myself grinning like an idiot throughout the entire film and at the end felt such a sense of accomplishment for Kevin and his place in the world of entertainment, or perhaps more accurately, ‘edutainment.’

Marks puts everything together very well. She introduces us to the young Kevin who had a fascination with puppets and the characters on Sesame Street. Through interviews with Kevin and his family you get the sense that his parents supported him all the way and that despite not understanding where he was heading with his ‘hobby’ his siblings supported him as well.

That Kevin seemed almost destined to become an adroit puppeteer goes without saying. He taught himself how to make puppets and how to develop his creations voices and characters.

It was a lovely journey and reminded me of childhood friends who shared Kevin Clash’s fascination with all things muppet related.

We see where Kevin got his start on ‘local’ television and the studios realization that they would not get to keep this incredibly talented young man for long. The documentary also had a nostalgic feeling, especially when they revealed that Kevin had worked on the ‘legendary’ kids program Captain Kangaroo.

We also learn about Elmo’s start as a muppet and his temporary ‘fall from grace’ when his ‘original’ creator did not know what to do with him. Elmo’s creator tossed him over to Kevin and said, “See what you can do with it.” The rest, as they say, is history.

The documentary also shows Kevin helping out the ‘next generation’ of puppeteers just as he himself had been helped by the existing master craftsmen of the day.

This film will make you not only love Elmo even more (if that’s possible) but it will also make you love Clash and his apparent love of what he does.  If you get a chance, watch this feel good film and enjoy a ride down the streets of yesteryear and the  journey of one man and his puppet.

Elmo and Kevin at Sundance.

About Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, vlogger, blogger, journalist. Cinephile who reviews films, television, YouTube shows, Books and interviews professionals in the industry. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

4 thoughts on “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (2011): A Feel Good Documentary

  1. My childhood (or babyhood) approves of this article. :) That and it’s always fascinating to see how stories and their characters are created. Even more interesting is learning about the creators themselves!

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