Review: Being Elmo

logan j. fowler reviews the surprise Sundance hit …

When I first heard of Being Elmo, it was met with both excitement and trepidation. Of course you must know by now that I love the Muppets with heart “felt” passion, and seeing the trailer documentary detailing the work of Kevin Clash (the man behind Elmo, Splinter in the first two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movies, and many other Muppets and regular puppets) looked insanely interesting. However, there is one thing that made me (and I’m being serious here) that made me not want to watch the movie …

I don’t like Elmo.

Yeah, it’s silly in essence, but really, I was a kid who watched Sesame Street religiously when it was on. And transitioning from childhood to teenager phase, I dropped Sesame Street viewing when I got too old. However, I always remember the program being more ensemble based; everyone had equal screen time. But when Tickle-Me-Elmo came to pass in the stores, suddenly this little red scamp was all over the place; not just in stores, but on screens, and I’m not referring to multiple televisions. He had his own movie too.

I got kind of annoyed with his sudden burst of stardom and his rule over Sesame Street. This is of course is Logan the adult speaking, and I’ve stuck to such a philosophy much to the dismay of my friends. “How can you hate Elmo?” “Well because he’s a diva and he’s spilling his third person speaking and high pitched voice all over the contents of Sesame Street.”

But, despite my hatred, I gave Being Elmo a shot (the film is available on Instant Netflix) and my eyes marginally opened up. The title is sort of a ode to Kevin Clash’s most popular character, but really, this a documentary about Mr. Clash. It’s a journey detailing the man’s life, all his success, his fears, and overall, his contribution to children’s lives.

At a brief hour and 16 minutes, Being Elmo does cover a lot of ground in the life of Kevin Clash. The best moments of the film are where when he describes his meeting giants such as Jim Henson. I also personally loved how the movie showcased Kevin working with puppeteers and teaching them skills to make their puppets work better.

The movie also did bring me to tears. For a person who dislikes Clash’s major star in Elmo, there was a very emotional scene included in the film as I thought there would be. I may be a sap, but it really demonstrates how much this puppet means to children.

Being Elmo is a fantastic documentary discussing the dreams and goals of one single man. A definite must watch for anyone who believes in achieving their innermost desires, Muppet fan or not (THOSE KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD NOT EXIST).