Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2012) Review

This light hearted documentary recounts the career of Kevin Clash, the man behind the iconic puppet Elmo, taking a look at his rise to fame from small time puppet maker in Baltimore to a highly paid and respected member of the Sesame Street gang.

Underneath all the felt faces and goggly eyes of the brightly coloured puppets, there’s a darkness that could have turned this doc into a much more compelling story. The isolation, abandonment and disappointment between Clash and his family as a man who never seems to be available for them is missed by director Constance Marks, who fails to delve deeper into levels of emotion other than the joy Elmo brings to kids. What really shines here is the commitment Clash has for his lifelong passion as a puppeteer, the determination (and success) he had to work with his idol Jim Henson, and the opportunities he took and missed along the way. In hindsight, the crumbling relationships around him would have made for a more intriguing subject matter: a man in such high demand he missed out on most of the important moments in his child’s early life, and the deterioration of his marriage.

One for puppet fans out there with an interest in how the creatures are made, developed and performed. It’s all very nice and respectful, much like the brilliant TV shows by Jim Henson. Just don’t expect any hard hitting dirt.

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