Friday, February 24, 2017
Being Elmo is the story of how a young boy named Kevin Clash followed his dreams to become the famous puppeteer behind the beloved Sesame Street character Elmo. The documentary premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and received a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Whoopi Goldberg narrates how Clash grew up in a lower class neighborhood in Baltimore, where he would dream of going to Disney World to escape his reality, but his family could never afford it. Young Kevin would watch puppet shows on TV and then sew his own sock puppets and muppets, giving them eyes, a voice, a personality, and bringing them to life in his backyard, where he would host puppet shows for the neighborhood children. From a young age he had a passion, which turned into a talent; however, as a high school student he would get bullied and teased for "playing with dolls." If it wasn't for his parents' constant support of his dream, he wouldn't have become as successful as he is, This is an important message for parents watching this film, to support their children's aspirations whatever they may be. Kevin Clash did not go to college, yet he is today the man behind Sesame Street, a name familiar to generations. Besides parents, the audience of this film is also young teenagers, because it conveys the message that if you do what you love and never give up, no matter where you come from or what you look like, you can be successful.
The purpose of this film is to give credit to Kevin Clash, because everyone can recognize Elmo, but no one knows of the amazing human behind the popular character. Much of the point of view is from Kevin himself, who through interviews, shares anecdotes of his journey. His mother also is a main source of his story, because she knows him better than anyone else; this makes the documentary more authentic, yet also a bit bias because as a mother, she will only have positive things to say about him.
Although the movie was a success story, I felt like there were a lot of things missing. For a documentary about a person, the movie never touched on his personal life. It never touched on his race, his love interests, or any tragedy that might have happened in his life. For the most part he was very lucky and faced little to no obstacles throughout his journey. This made it seem unrealistic, as it was a tale too good to be true, a Horatio Alger myth if you will. For this reason I give it 3 stars.