Sunday, March 25, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (2011) ***

PG, 80 min.
Director: Constance Marks
Writers: Philip Shane, Justin Weinstein
Narrator: Whoopie Goldberg
Starring: Kevin Clash, Frank Oz, Whoopie Goldberg, Fran Brill, Bill Barretta, Joan Ganz Cooney, Martin P. Robinson, Caroll Spinney

I was never a fan of Elmo. First of all, he was past my time as a “Sesame Street” watcher. By the time Elmo became popular, I was too jaded to accept his positive message. Yes, I was a jaded 14-year-old. Naw, not really. But, I wasn’t watching Muppets anymore.

Kevin Clash was watching Muppets when he was 14. In fact, he was building them on his own. Soon he was performing with them on a local Baltimore station and later on “Captain Kangaroo” and “The Great Space Coaster”. Jim Henson was his idol, and Clash’s spirit seemed destined to work with his idol some day.

Clash’s story is more touching than I expected the story of a famous puppeteer to be. He did eventually work with Henson and today he’s the man in charge of Sesame Street. He still visits with young puppeteers who were inspired by his work as Elmo in the same way his mentors took him in when he was not even yet a man. I may not care much for Elmo, but from this movie it is clear that Elmo’s creator is a man to be respected and admired. 

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