Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Being Elmo

Jim and I were looking on Netflix, this evening, for something to watch, and we came across Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey. "Is that the guy who 'plays Elmo?'" I asked Jim, squinting at the screen. He opened the film so we could check it out. Within minutes, both of us were completely enthralled.

Listen, I can't think of a person in the world (including a non-kid person or an Elmo hater) who wouldn't enjoy this documentary narrated by Whoopi Goldberg. It's about the birth and tenacity of a dream. It's about becoming. And it's beautiful.

From a young age, Kevin Clash glued himself to the tv, trying to figure out how Jim Henson made puppets that appeared seamless. Clash started making puppets, himself, at the age of 10. As a teenager, he performed on local (Baltimore) tv, shrugging off the derision of classmates who didn't understand why he was "playing with dolls." On his senior trip to New York City, he struck out, alone, to meet Muppet designer Kermit Love.

Love took Clash under his wing, teaching him tricks of the trade and introducing him to Henson. After a few years on regular shows (including Captain Kangaroo), Clash worked with Henson on Labyrinth. Eventually, Clash made his way to Sesame Street.

I appreciated, especially, hearing how Clash's parents supported his dreams; how Clash developed Elmo's character from that of a caveman to the one we know today; and how Clash reaches out to both fledgling puppeteers and critically-ill children.

Beautiful film. I can't think you would, in a million years, come away disappointed. I look forward to  watching Being Elmo again: next time, with my twelve-year-old dreamer.

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