Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2011) Poster

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Excellent story of a man's voice we've all heard
ichazz11 July 2011
Great documentary about the lovable man behind the voice of Elmo. It's really inspiring to see someone not only come into success from such a humble beginning, but also to be so focused from childhood at one goal.

I personally enjoyed how intertwined his career was with other puppeteers Frank Oz and Jim Henson. The way Kevin tells his stories about working with his childhood idols was so down to Earth and without pretension that I felt like I was hearing it first hand from a friend. By the end of the doc you'll feel like you've known Kevin for years, not just 90 minutes.

10 stars, I hope this gem gets the attention it deserves
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Great film with an equally great story behind it
adzazz198811 July 2011
'Being Elmo' is not only a great flashback into your childhood growing up with Sesame Street, but a truly inspiring and amazing story behind the man who has dedicated his life to one of the most loved characters from the show. It was nothing like I expected it to be. It's not a childish rewind on the history of puppets, but instead a wonderful display of determination and dedication on Clash's part and just a great documentary made by the entire crew. Definitely recommended for everyone. Hopefully this film and its crew will get all of the praise and attention it so rightfully deserves. You will without a doubt be left inspired and moved by Clash's journey.
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If you have ever had a heart, a dream, or a childhood, this movie is for YOU!!!
noetzel-eliora31 October 2011
From the opening shot of Elmo's eyes and nose pressed up to the screen, it is clear to the audience that this film will be warm and fuzzy (pun intended). Kevin Clash's journey from a quiet kid with an unusual passion, to one of the most legendary and well-respected puppeteers in the world, is downright inspirational. Walking out of the movie theater, I nearly decided to quit my job and pursue my childhood dream of being the first singing ballet dancer in space (then I remembered my rent check dues in two days... alas...).

Being Elmo is not just a screen adaptation of Mr.Clash's incredible book, "My Life as a Furry Red Monster." It is a cinematic adventure that takes you through Kevin's journey and introduces you to a world of puppeteers who live and breathe to create childhood magic. You see and hear stories about the legendary Jim Henson, who is not just the name sake of a major company, but a real person whom Kevin Clash admired tremendously. You observe clips of the television shows that filled Kevin's childhood, and gain a true sense of gratitude for the wonder and excitement muppets once brought, and for many people, continue to bring, into our lives.

Not only is the arch of Kevin's career inspirationally depicted, but the film is a cinematic collection of amazing footage. The amount of work that went obtaining rare footage of Jim Henson interviews, old television shows, and Kevin Clash's audition tapes, as well as the way in which the creative team re-created memories where footage does not exist, makes every last moment as visually relevant and exciting as Kevin's story is touching and fascinating.

That is not to say that you leave the film wanting to work on Sesame Street. To the contrary, you realize that Being Elmo, or any other muppet for that matter, means holding your arms up for long stretches of time, contorting your body into strange positions to stay out of frame, and not getting personal recognition by the public even when you are the heart and soul of a character who is loved by millions. It is a tough job, and the people who do it make huge sacrifices. But you do leave the theater with a true appreciation for the people who dedicate their lives to teaching and inspiring children through the hand-y-work (pun intended again) of their furry friends.

For anyone who has a heart, dream, child, or was a child, do yourself a favor, and let this film restore some of your magical-wide eyed wonder. And never forget, Elmo loves you!!!
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Elmo Represents Love for All Generations!
Alan Just23 November 2011
"Elmo Represents Love", his love takes you over and warms your heart in one of the most passionate documentary's I've ever seen, "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey". The story of Kevin Clash going from a young boy with a dream of becoming a puppeteer, to providing the voice, the heart and the soul of the world's most beloved puppet; Elmo.

I was so excited to see this documentary. Even from the first time I read about it, I knew that it was going to be a heartfelt tale of a man who achieved his calling in life and is lucky enough to share that gift with people from all over the world and of all generations! When I first sat down in the theater to watch this film, my girlfriend and I were the only people in the seats. We were excited for a minute because we usually feel it's great to have the theater to yourself! Shortly after, a little flow of people came in and joined us. First it was a couple in their middle ages. Next it was a lone man who seemed closer to 100 than to 50. A handful of more couples walked in, one speaking in a foreign language, and finally a man walked in with his young son. I realized before the movie even began that this is a character, a story, and a movie going experience that touches everyone and spans generations. For the next hour and a half, we all sat together and laughed out loud, broke into tears and re-fell in love with Elmo.

Kevin Clash was not a typical kid growing up in the Baltimore area. He fell in love with the puppets he would see on TV and became so inspired that he dedicated all the free time he had to sewing his very own puppets and creating the characters and voices to go along with them. He had early success with his local TV station performing weekly on his very own show that gained local popularity. By the time he was 18 he had given life to more than 85 of his own puppets.

His career was taken to the next level when he was found by one of the most successful puppet creators in the business, a man with a very recognizable name, Kermit Love. Kermit Love took the young Kevin under his wing helping him land parts on shows such as "Captain Kangaroo" and "The Great Space Coaster" and later giving Kevin his biggest break, an introduction with Jim Henson.

The movie continues to talk about the life and rise to stardom of Kevin. The stories accounted are helped out by Kevin's mother and father, shown to always be supportive of Kevin's dream, his brothers and sisters, other puppeteers and entertainers that he has worked with, and unfortunately, Whoopi Goldberg. She would be credited as the Narrator if there was an official title given and I found her to be pretty annoying. In an honest story like this one I thought she was giving a forced emotion to her readings. The music in the movie, obviously assists in making it such a passion filled movie, is prevalent and I found it to be over the top at times. I don't know if there is a moment of the movie not accompanied by an inspiring backdrop of music.

The story very much focuses on the professional life and stardom of Kevin Clash. It almost, too obviously disregards his personal life. I missed the one mention of his "Ex-wife" in the movie and left thinking "with all the time away, this man must have never been at home for his family". It doesn't take anything away for the documentary's sake, but it was something that I noticed. The movie's purpose is to make you feel the love for the character and show selected parts of the puppeteer's journey. It is not a complete tale of the man himself. It chooses to include what it does to portray the desired message.

Perhaps the most interesting story is the creation of the Elmo character. Elmo was first a puppet on Sesame Street voiced in caveman like fashion by famous puppeteer Richard Hunt . When Hunt grew tired of the character and was fed up with the fuzzy red puppet he unceremoniously tossed it to Kevin Clash. In a matter of hours, Kevin transformed the puppet into the character we all now know and love. A Puppet that represents love, and hugs and kisses…and tickles! "Being Elmo" is a moving and heartwarming tale that everyone will enjoy! Large Popcorn.

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Made me want to be a puppeteer
Cebollas de Noche5 November 2011
If you've enjoyed watching the Muppets/Sesame Street/or the like you'll love this movie. The story of Kevin Clash is not so dramatic as much as it is fascinating and a thorough exploration of the unique world and craft of Muppets. I frequently found myself giggling or chuckling during several scenes, and I was always excited whenever someone put a puppet on to see how they would bring it to life with their voice and motions. The movie showed me where to find the deep hidden meaning in puppets and shows like Sesame Street. This movie made me feel happy, and I don't know that I can explain why except that this is part of the magic of puppeteers like Kevin Clash and their craft.
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Heart warming and laugh out loud funny
sara-mouser18 July 2011
I was privileged to see the film at Sundance and was not disappointed. The heartfelt story made me love Elmo even more, who thought that was possible?

I will admit that there seemed to be a bit of a downfall missing. The guy is very likable but I could sense a missing piece. The film touches upon Clash's relationship with his daughter and the strains they endured due to Clash's work-a-holic lifestyle. Yet, the resolution quite wasn't there for me. All things were patched up with a Sweet 16 birthday bash for her. With that said, it doesn't ruin the film and merely left me curious.

The history of Elmo and Clash's relationship with Jim Henson was pure magic. The behind the scenes look at the world of muppeteers truly fascinated me.

I encourage you to check out the film for yourself.
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Feel-Good Story That Proves Nice Guys Don't Always Finish Last
Sean Lamberger29 March 2012
The super-sweet story of Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Elmo and a variety of other characters, which doubles as a heartwarming look back at the attitudes and atmosphere behind the scenes with Jim Henson's troupe in the glory days. Clash is a master at his craft, a by-product of spending every afternoon since childhood with an arm inside a furry marionette, and when he's not on the air with the cast of Sesame Street, he's contentedly passing that knowledge on to the next generation. It's an attitude he inherited from Henson and his close associate Kermit Love, who took Kevin under their wing and showed him the ropes without any pretense or hesitation. Too often we're too concerned with job security to share the intimate details of our craft with others, least of all the rising young stars, but Love and Henson adopted Clash with selfless warmth and care, a lesson he hasn't forgotten and continues to roll forward to others today. They're a perfect embodiment of everything the Muppets have stood for, complete with a contagious smile that didn't leave my face for hours.
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The heart behind the hand behind the puppet.
There are many things in life that happens that we're not aware off. Just like magic; sometimes revealing the trick behind the show takes away some of the amazement we feel. I gotta tell you right now: this is not one of those times.

You'll see the common subjects documentaries are made off: the beginnings, the struggle, the breakthrough. But somehow, even if you're aware you're gonna see something special regarding the life of Mr. Clash, it'll take you by surprise. There's this vibe of amazement, seeing the world of the Muppets thru the eyes of Kevin Clash that makes us feel part of it. I have to confess, I'm kind of a cynical man and still found me shedding some tears at certain moments during the movie, not regarding his life, but seeing the kids and watching him being Elmo.

Do yourself a favor: watch this movie with your loved ones. I assure you you'll run to your drawers to make a sock puppet.
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475th Review. A Wonderful, Joyous Documentary
intelearts8 January 2012
It is sad that of the 15 documentaries currently nominated for the 2012 Oscars this wasn't one of them - it clearly deserves to be - it may not be about great injustices or uncovering the new, but it does something that the very best documentaries can do - it makes the world a a better place and the viewer a better person for watching it.

This is simply one my favorite films of the year. Kevin Clash is the man behind Elmo, but he is also a man who never ever wanted to do anything from his earliest memories than to make puppets and be a puppeteer. We live in an age where, thank goodness, video records childhood and meetings and TV archives have the records - so we get not only the interviews but also some wonderful footage - and the full story of how Kevin went from making puppets in his bedroom to being a world-class puppeteer.

I do like documentaries - and the best transcend their category and simply take you on the journey - that journey that the greatest drama and comedies can - where you can't wait to see the next frame - where as the story unfolds so does the magic.

Being Elmo does have movie magic. What lifts this is the joy it brings and shares, not just the Muppets and Jim Henson, but just the wonderful spirit that doing what you really love can bring.

It may not be a pure documentary in the truest sense of the word, but is immensely charming and it leaves you laughing, crying, and wishing everyone got to do what they hoped to do as a child.
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A Truly Wonderful Person!
liz2219310 November 2011
I knew Kevin in High School (Dundalk Sr High) back in Baltimore County Maryland, although he probably doesn't remember me. We were in music class together and he was I think, 2 years ahead of me. Nobody in our school could say anything negative about Kevin. From day one, he was hard working and driven, but also the sweetest, kindest and funniest boy in class.

I remember a school concert once, the chorus was on stage sitting on the risers and Kevin was in front of us; but behind the piano with some of his own puppet creations. Kevin was putting on a short show for the audience when he accidentally hit his head (fairly hard) on the back of the piano. Teenagers, being what they are, started laughing and giggling behind Kevin, but the audience had no idea what had happened. We could tell Kevin was hurting, the gestures his body was making behind that piano emphasized his discomfort in a very comical way. Kevin continued on with his show without missing a beat, a puppet change or a line of dialogue. Even at that age, he was a professional.

Kevin played one of the leads in our schools production of "Guys and Dolls", he was Skye Masterson. I think every girl in the High School fell at least a little in love with Kevin during that show. You may know Kevin as the voice of Elmo and other puppet characters, but when he sings, EVERYONE stops to listen! I'm proud to have known Kevin, even if it was just in passing. I enjoy telling people, "I went to High School with Elmo" and watching their reactions as I proudly tell them about Kevin. Kevin Clash's life story is truly an inspiration. Though there might have been a few rough spots here and there, Kevin is proof that anyone, no matter what their circumstances, can make their dreams come true.
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See this and enjoy
dswanson3518 November 2011
My wife dragged me there...a biopic about a puppeteer? It was an occasion, Clash (coming home to Baltimore), the producer and director were there, as was Elmo, who did a Q&A with the audience. This is a very likable, humorous and enjoyable movie about a guy who seems to have been sure at a very early age that he really wanted to be a puppeteer. If you do have that desire, it must be the holy grail to end up in the Henson organization. At any rate, Clash is a likable, engaging guy with a good story about having come up from modest beginnings to the pinnacle of his profession all without seeming to have lost his soul along the way. See it and enjoy.
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It's about time someone profiled this guy.
Mr-Fusion3 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Being Elmo" sets out to shed some light on the voice and hands behind arguably the most well-known character on Sesame Street. Hard-hitting documentary, this is not, but it does a fine job illustrating the gift and purity of soul that Kevin Clash possesses in his characterization of the sweet red monster.

The film traces Clash's puppeteer beginnings as a kid growing up in Baltimore. Clash saw a worthwhile pursuit in puppeteering when "Sesame Street" premiered in 1969, and a chance encounter landed him a gig on local television. From there, he pursued his dream, finding guidance under the man that designed and built Jim Henson's Muppets, which eventually led to employment with Henson, himself. He found his home on "Sesame Street", breathing new life into one of the most endearing characters ever created by a human being.

What's amazing about Clash's story is that he started out a fan of Jim Henson and the Muppets, went for it, and now he's passing down the inspiration and the tutelage to younger hopefuls. And everything that makes Elmo such a likable Muppet (and so magnetic with children) comes directly from Clash. Elmo is pure love; pure innocence. And watching Elmo on screen is like peering into the soul of this man.

There's a scene with Clash training the crew of the French version of "Sesame Street". In trying to nail down a dance number, Clash simply holds up his hand (puppetless), and with seemingly breathless ease, mimes a perfectly fluid movement. That someone is able to breathe such life and personality into a mere hand gesture just goes to show the level of craft and talent that Clash and the other puppeteers have. And he makes it look so easy.

"Being Elmo" is full of awe-inspiring moments, as well as heartbreaking ones. But it's also one of the most heartwarming films I have ever seen. I dare say, it is humanly impossible to watch this film and not choke up at least once.

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A character we all know, played by a character we don't
Steve Pulaski30 March 2012
"(He's) a six year old's Brad Pitt" proclaims a father of two whose kids get the once in a lifetime chance to meet Elmo, the Sesame Street puppet. You can see the smile on the kids' faces as they are simply entranced with meeting one of the most recognizable characters in Television history, right up there with Homer Simpson and Spongebob Squarepants. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey revolves around Kevin Clash, an optimistic soul who has wanted to be a puppeteer since his youth, and achieved untold greatness along with the everlasting support of his parents and his family.

I realize how cliché that sounds, but the documentary shows us how parental encouragement and motivation can push us through rigid and unforgivable instances. Clash's main point of criticism at a young age was he liked to play with dolls and showed little to no interest in sports or athletes. To him, the real heroes were those who communicated with children through puppets. Instead of idolizing Micky Mantle, he idolized Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppet characters.

Clash spent hours perfecting his puppets, but was greatly limited in resources. Nowadays, when going to hobby stores and collector outlets, just about anything can be made. All it takes is imagination and persistency. Doll houses, bracelets, and crafts of all shapes and sizes can be made. The possibilities are endless, and thanks to the internet, it can play a huge role in collecting the items needed. But when growing up in humble Baltimore, with very little spending money, things like softer, more versatile fabric and fleece weren't accessible to Clash. He had to make due with the minimal equipment he had. When sifting through old puppets with a friend, he finds one that has the wrong color thread sewn to the mouth.

It wasn't long before his puppet shows for the neighbors paid off, when Clash got to meet and work with his idol, Jim Henson, on a number of different shows and skits. Alas, this all lead up to his role of Elmo. Before Clash, Elmo's character was rowdy and ill-behaved. It wasn't until he got a hold of him and made the character bleed with charisma, silliness, and his most pivotal trait, love and happiness, did the true Elmo begin to see the light. Seeing the character as wacky and as silly as ever in the documentary brought a grand amount of emotion to me, especially in the third act. The character doesn't show an ounce of dislike for anybody, and seems to show the more limitless side of Clash himself. One person in the documentary explains that he believes Elmo is how Clash truly wants to act, but doesn't want to endure all the strangeness that will rub off on his coworkers. His solution is to project his feelings onto a puppet that is instantly recognizable and insanely lovable.

Whenever I think of Elmo, my mind sails off on a tangent back when I was two years old. Every kid watched Sesame Street. I think that was almost a federal mandate. This was around that time the "Tickle Me Elmo" dolls were becoming increasingly popular, and clerks and customers alike were being trampled because people were scrambling to buy one for their children. My mom even said there were ads in the classified sections selling dolls for upwards of $200. My uncle won an "Elmo" doll in a drawing at K-Mart and was given it in seclusion in a shoebox, so as not to be mugged or conspicuous when walking out the door. I was given it on, what I believe, was my birthday. My mom turned the doll on, and it began shaking and laughing repeatedly. I was shaking and crying repeatedly. I was terrified of the doll, as I hated toys that moved and spoke. I'm sure my uncle was just overjoyed with my reaction.

As far as the documentary itself goes, it's a whimsical event, but a short one at that, clocking in at roughly seventy-two minutes minus credits. It feels thin, unfinished, and slightly underdeveloped. We only learn about Clash's journey with Elmo towards the end of the documentary, and the film seems to gloss over specific parts such as Elmo's popularity, his fans of all ages, and just in pop culture in general. One can say this was more about Clash's life, but a small segment on how his popularity has spread like wildfire would've been appreciated. Nonetheless, this is a wonderful documentary, projecting light on a character we all know, and the puppeteer, whose name, at first, doesn't ring any bells.

Starring: Kevin Clash, Whoopi Goldberg, and Rosie O'Donnell. Directed by: Constance Marks.
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A Classic Cinderella Story
shunder23 February 2012
There are basically three ways to tell a story, written, verbal and film. Film captures all three in one medium, and Being Elmo tells the story of achievement and success attained by following a dream unequivocally. One cannot tell Kevin Clash's story however, without also telling the story of Sesame Street, Jim Henson and the talented and dedicated staff of the most beloved children's television program of all time. By following the story of Clash's life in chronological order, Constance Marks, Director, is able to bring this story to life, much like the way a puppeteer breathes life into the character of the puppet they perform with.

Mr. Clash is the artist who brought Elmo to life on Sesame Street, and Clash's story has at its heart the classic "rags to riches" factor. As a young boy in Baltimore, he became enamored with puppets while watching his favorite TV shows. With unwavering commitment the youthful Clash began creating puppets with the drive of the successful artist he was to develop into. As Marks follows his life from the backyards of Baltimore to New York City, Paris and beyond, one is left with a sense of the unlimited possibility that Clash's passionate drive cultivates. The story is told in the first person narrative and directly to the viewer. When the narrator Whoopi Goldberg or Clash himself are adding to this narrative, they are speaking directly to the audience. The film clips of Clash's life and rise to "Elmo" fame are blended beautifully in the first person. We see and hear Clash's parents telling the audience the story of how Kevin went directly from high school to New York.

Being Elmo has the distinct advantage of a story told about performances on TV, thus having many clips, episodes and interviews from which to draw. Marks brilliantly weaves the elements of Clash's story, his life and rise as a puppeteer together with a combination of clips, narration of Goldberg, Clash himself and a wide variety of others. In the telling of this intimate, moving and beautifully done story, Director Constance certainly hits her Marks.
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It was OK...
qstylez8 May 2011
This documentary is cute. It's a biography of the puppeteer behind Elmo and his love of puppetry. Maybe my expectations were too high regarding how dramatic a life Kevin Clash lived. There are some heart warming moments regarding his passion for puppetry and children but that's about it. It has lots of "nice" moments where he got to meet legends in his field, and the chance to give back to the next generations of puppeteers. Don't get me wrong, it highlights the amazing talents of Mr Clash with puppets! He'll be considered a legend when all is said and done!

But this was just a feel good story for people pursuing their passions. Don't expect a complex story that leaves much for interpretation.
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Elmo's soul
Imdbidia2 March 2017
Although I grew up with Sesame Street, I met Elmo when I was already an adult and I completely felt in love with the character at first sight. I'm still in love with Elmo because he makes me laugh every time, he makes my heart melt, and I love his mix of naughtiness, innocence, tenderness, laughter and love for the world. That is not Elmo, is Kevin Clash's puppeteer mastery and soul poured into the character.

Watching this film put a face and a story to the wonderful character that Elmo is. To me, this documentary is mostly the story of how a passion for puppetry drove and drives the life of Kevin Clash, how he has devoted his life to creating magic, and how he went from a working-class multi-racial suburb in Baltimore to the top of the world following a dream. This is a documentary on a remarkable journey that was not lead by money, delusional grandeur or by coming from an influential family, but by being very talented, passionate and hard working, and meeting wonderful people who saw the gem in Clash without him having to beg, or manipulate them or play them. I also loved all the information about Henson's troupe, of whom Claus would end becoming a member. I loved the Muppet Show and Henson's amazing fantasy worlds when I was a kid, and getting to know more about him and his work was also wonderful.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the documentary, there are a few things missing that I though that kept the doco on a plateau instead of taking it to another level. The first is Woopie Wholberg's narration; I'm a fan of Woopie, but she's uninspired here, and I felt the narration was too flat. Most importantly, some facets of Clash's personal life were never discussed, were jumped over or vaguely mentioned: > His father barely says anything about him in the film. > There is little mention of his upbringing at home and in Baltimore. > We don't know if he had ever to deal with nasty racial issues. > Also, a good part of his married life is not mentioned, and he only divorced in 2003, like a big blank there. > The film being from 2011, I wasn't expecting the scandal that followed Claus and ended his career at the Sesame Workshop in 2012 to be discussed, but that being the case, a good part of who he is, a guy man who had relationships with co-workers were never to be discussed.

This is a wonderful window to who the man behind Elmo is, and what took him to get there. Although the documentary is good, there are a few relevant lacunae that make the documentary a bit flawed, and the tone of the film feels flat at times. Yet, if you love Elmo you are going to love it.
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Feel so inspired I think I could conquer the world
yasminbharrison24 December 2016
So good I had to write a review! I have never watched something and smiled from ear to ear the whole time. I'm still grinning as I write this. I feel so inspired after watching this like I could walk outside and conquer the world. A story of such a humble, sweet, professional n slightly shy man who created such a wonderful world for himself and children and adults alike with Elmo. I was never really a fan of Sesame Street growing up but I am in awe of how hard puppeteers work after watching this. This documentary really shows you should NEVER give up on your dreams and also that you can still be successful and not forget those who helped you get there. 10 out of 10
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overshadowed by scandal
SnoopyStyle22 November 2016
Kevin Clash is the puppeteer of Sesame Street's Elmo. He's an African American who spent his childhood in "Chocolate City" Baltimore. He fell in love with puppets and the art of puppeteering. He made his own puppets doing his shows. With the help of his mother, he contacted Jim Henson and found a mentor in legendary puppet maker Kermit Love. He worked on Captain Kangaroo which ended in 1984. He worked for Henson on Labyrinth and Sesame Street. Soon, he began to perform as Elmo.

This is an insightful look at the world of puppeteering. It is a world I never really thought about. It's interesting to see the puppets being made. It doesn't dig too deeply into his personal life and I noticed it even before the scandal. While this movie is an insightful in its area, there was a bigger human story that only got a passing mention. There are the race issue and the homosexual issue. The filmmakers simply dropped the ball. Sesame Street is very progressive and I wonder if the filmmakers failed to see the tree for the forest. He's a gay black man who was married but they thought it wouldn't matter on a kids show since it's the progressive Sesame Street. Maybe it's the lawsuits that broke the camel's back but the filmmakers should have realized that there is a story there before that.
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The Sweetest Documentary I've Ever Seen
S.R. Hunt25 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I was browsing Netflix last night when I came across this documentary. I thought, "Eh, why not?", and I felt warm and fuzzy inside the whole way though. I was familiar with Kevin Clash before I watched this, knowing him mostly for, of course, Elmo and Splinter in the 1990 "Ninja Turtles" movie. I'm assuming this was made before Clash resigned, since there is no reference to it in this film, so let's ignore that elephant in the room and focus on what the film brings. Clash's story of being that "weirdo" who plays with puppets in high school really struck a cord with me. I think everyone who goes on to do children's entertainment has heard that before, whether it's cartoons or puppets. Now, I'm not a serious fan of the Muppets, but I do enjoy them, so this was a very interesting documentary. If you're interested in puppetry, you should really check this out.
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Mike B17 November 2014
This is such an awe-inspiring, life-affirming documentary! How can one not admire and love the creators of Sesame Street? I still remember watching this show almost daily with my children as they were growing up.

This documentary recounts how at a young age, Kevin Clash, was obsessed with puppets – and strived to be a puppeteer. He started with a local show in Baltimore, moved to Captain Kangaroo – and finally reached his dream with Jim Henson's Muppets and Sesame Street. We feel his motivation and self-starting ability – and also his humbleness as he approaches his life's dream. What is of great significance is how he was mentored, by both his parents and fellow puppeteers – and how this mentoring tradition is being kept on. That is why Sesame Street has endured; entertained and educated children – and their parents, since it's inception in 1969.

A wonderful documentary – highly recommended. Life proof-positive!
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A Nutshell Review: Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey
DICK STEEL30 September 2012
I grew up with Sesame Street, and probably watched each episode on television quite religiously until about 12. Not only because I was simply just a kid, but I was more curious about how the muppets come to life, whether there's someone beneath them, for those muppets whose lower bodies are always at the base of the television screen, with a human hand inserted and tackling limbs with a rod, or inside them since they're full sized, such as the likes of Big Bird and Snuffleupagus who are usually seen full-bodied.

But there wasn't any Elmo, who came onto the scene just as I got weaned off Sesame Street. That didn't mean I didn't check in once in a while, and clearly the Elmo character caught on, and exploded into an icon. This documentary goes behind the scenes a little bit further to check in on the man responsible for creating, building and maintaining the Elmo persona, giving him voice, personality and just about managing his every appearance as the character grew a legion of fans who love it for the sole reason that Elmo is really about love regardless.

It didn't start out that way of course, with the character almost slated for relegation, until Kevin Clash came to its rescue. It's a journey of opportunities, chances, timing, just as it's about talent, and the hard work that goes with it to ensure that the talent gets honed to perfection, and not laid to waste. This documentary charts Clash's life as a boy who found his calling, and who had developed his own series of puppet characters before the bigger leagues came calling, and as the adage goes, the rest is history.

It's about a boy who had worked on his dreams, and for life to throw at him some serious chances to work with the legendary Jim Henson and his many close collaborators, from Frank Oz to Kermit Love, in various film and television projects, until he got himself to the Sesame Street gig. And even then, it's a lesson in humility and constant education and improvement, never to be satisfied with one's current level of success, but to constantly work towards another peak in one's profession.

But it's not all technical in the documentary, as the Elmo persona, a persona of heart, has plenty of heart wrenching moments as well, from the sacrifices Clash has to put in, at the expense of family time to bring the joy of Elmo to those who needed it most, and not only in the USA but probably every corner of the globe that has a Sesame Street reach. As Kevin rises into the ranks of peers, teaching others the craft of puppetry, inspiring the young and talented at the same time, so too does the reach of Elmo become what it is today, a recognizable icon amongst the young and old, and the many outreach programmes it actually finds itself in.

The world may miss the creative brilliance of Jim Henson, but so long as there are those, like Clash, who are able to fill the void that's left behind, bringing joy and cheer to millions of children worldwide, and inspiring many with their stories and puppet persona, then the art form is in good hands to find itself new audiences everyday who will also experience the joys and laughter that we grew up with. And who would have thought that Elmo, one that was almost discarded, is at the forefront of leading the charge.
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Realizing the American Dream... with Elmo
DerekTheCritic9 July 2012
When I first heard about "Being Elmo," I didn't immediately think I would enjoy it. Sure, I like the Muppets and Jim Henson movies. And yes, of course I like Elmo (who doesn't?)... so when I watched this movie and was blown away, I was pleasantly surprised. This movie is much, much more than just how Kevin Clash brings Elmo to life on TV. It's a wonderfully compelling story about a young man who worked hard and fulfilled the American Dream. Kevin Clash wanted to be a puppeteer, and today, he's the man behind one of the world's most beloved and recognized characters. How he (and Elmo) got there is a beautiful tale, and this documentary captures it perfectly.

Kevin Clash was teased when he was a child for "playing with dolls." By the time he was a young adult, he landed a job at the Jim Henson Company and started making a living doing what he loved. And when a fellow puppeteer got fed up with a small red character called "Elmo," he tossed it in Kevin's lap and said, "Here, see if you can get something out of this." What happened next was nothing short of historic. And I mean historic in every sense of the word - remember "Tickle Me Elmo" dolls? Yeah, you do. And you probably still have one, and still laugh whenever you hear it.

Kevin had many ups and downs in life, but his parents kept encouraging him and he kept his head on straight. He didn't blow his money or get involved in drugs/crime/etc. - he simply wanted to make people happy. In one of the movie's most important scenes, Kevin explains that the voice and characterization of Elmo originated from watching children playing. "Elmo is all about love." Really? Is it that simple? Yes, it is. And it really, really works.

Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most heart-wrenching scenes I have ever seen happens when Elmo meets a Make-A-Wish child. Kevin Clash stays in character, and when everyone else (including the audience) is in tears, he remains absolutely focused and in control. The commitment to the character, to Jim Henson Studios, and to his family is nothing short of remarkable.

I highly recommend this movie. It will inspire you to be a better person, and will give you newfound respect for the people behind the muppets.
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cool movie
jaemiewaters25 June 2012
this is a cool movie if you like movies than you will enjoy this wonderful movie this is why we go to the movies i think this is one of the coolest movies but it is not the best but it is still a good movie but i don't say it is a wow moment but it is still a good movie but i say it is for grown ups only because there is smoking in it i hope you enjoy this movie but i think it is good but i say it is not my favorite but i still think it is good i hope you enjoy it you have to see this movie but i thought it was not the best movie but it was still cool but i just wanted to watch it but i did not love it i only liked it not loved it i want you to watch the movie but i know you want like it that much like me if you want to watch this movie or Hugo i would choose Hugo because that was a good movie you just need to watch it for your self you need to see how bad this movie is i hope you like it but it was not the best movie but i hope you enjoy it everyone i want you to See how bad this movie is OK
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I think I've fallen in love with a Muppet...
TheSquiss16 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I think I've fallen in love with a Muppet! Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey is a very simple documentary about a child's captivation by Sesame Street, his passion for puppetry and where it took him. It's the most uplifting, engaging and compelling documentary I've seen in years and the most enjoyable since the completely bonkers Tabloid.

The story: Once upon a time, Kevin Cash was a young boy in a poor household when a new TV show appeared on the family TV. Sesame Street changed his life, inspiring him to learn the craft of making and performing with puppets. He staged puppet shows in the local community and was rewarded with bullying at the hands of his peers for spending more time with his creations than humans. But the dream of working for the great man, Jim Henson, took him on an incredible journey…

If you've read the title, you'll have a fairly clear idea of where the journey takes him but, oh boy, what a trip it's been for Cash! By the time the final credits roll, you'll see that it's not so much a linear trip, either, but a cycle that has been and will continue to be repeated. Inspiring, touching, effecting, rewarding…

Being Elmo is a very brief portrayal of the puppeteer's personal development and growth as a person as well as a puppeteer. At just 80 minutes I was left wanting so much more but the treat director Constance Marks has given the world is a heart-warming, eye-moistening delight of triumph over adversity, determination in spite of criticism and other such clichés.

However,the documentary is far from being a cliché itself. Marks is not afraid to show the flaws in Cash and the puppeteer himself admits to failing as a father at times as Elmo duties consume his life. What we see is an adult who understands the importance of never becoming a grown-up, that evil transmogrification that far too many children unconsciously suffer, but embraces the child we intrinsically were but so many forget to be.

Retrospectives can often be dull affairs with stuffed cardigans reflecting on times gone by and corpses who were once influential. Being Elmo is anything but dull. Even the photographs are brought to life, given another dimension; not so much a window to the past but a tunnel from the past into your own present.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey is a story about love. How would you react if your child introduced your coat to a pair of scissors to make a puppet and then left the result in your bedroom as a gift? If your reaction is anything other than Mr. Cash Senior's then shame on you. The Cash household embraced Kevin's passion and nurtured his talent even if they didn't fully understand it. Is it any wonder, then, that he transformed a Muppet without a direction into the most loving, lovable, huggable, reliable, inspiring Muppet of them all? Elmo is alive and he brings smile and happiness to those in need and he gives love freely and unconditionally to all he meets. Just as it is impossible to eat cake and remain miserable, it is impossible to resist the charms of that little, scruffy ball of scrawny, red Muppet.

Yes, I knew him before, but today I think Elmo melted my heart all over again and before you write me off, there's one VERY good reason you should watch Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey: Elmo loves you, too!

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The best feel good documentary I've seen in some time.
TheMovieSnob2471 June 2012
Inspiring. Magical. Imaginative.

These are just some of the words that come to mind as I thought of how to describe this documentary. Most documentaries these days seem to want educate about some horrible event or injustice with the requisite call for action. While those kinds of documentaries are very important, it was nice to see one that just made you feel good. The second I saw this trailer, I knew it was going to be something special and had to see it. Rest assured, it didn't disappoint.

This is the story of Kevin Clash; the amazing man behind Elmo from Sesame Street. It chronicles his life from youth where he discovered his love of puppets; to his big breaks meeting people like the man who created Captain Kangaroo and Jim Henson (the creator of Sesame Street) and how he came about Elmo and the tremendous impact it's had. As you watch the documentary, it's becomes clear that Kevin was born to this. As he pursues puppetry you can't help but cheer for him. Along the way I got a glimpse of a world I knew very little about and it was fascinating: how the puppets are built, tricks of the trade, how the puppeteers bring them to life and the really interesting people in the industry.

While this isn't the best documentary I've seen from a technical perspective, the story is what makes this great. It's just really moving (it had me fighting back tears on a number of occasions). It's just incredible to see how these guys (and Kevin specifically) can bring so much joy to children; all with just a piece of cloth. I found it amazing that you'd see Kevin at an event with Elmo. And even though there's a man standing there holding a puppet, you can't help but be drawn to Elmo. There's so much life and personality breathed into it, it's almost like Kevin isn't there. Especially with the children he visits. Someone in the film says with great puppets what you are seeing is the soul of the puppeteer. And after watching this, I'd have to agree. It's really amazing stuff; these guys are magicians in my eyes and under appreciated.

A sense of joy just permeates through this documentary in a way that is very rare. When it was over, I wanted more and didn't want it to end. I think what stuck me the most was something he said that reminded me a bit of a Steve Jobs graduation address that was being circulated after he died. Kevin seems to hit on the same theme and says (I'm paraphrasing here):

"Some people may say, well, you won't make any money doing that... All those things will go away if you focus on what makes you happy".

Kevin Clash is living his dream and this documentary inspires us to do the same. Definitely watch this, you won't regret it.

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