Friday 25 Jul
 
 

Escape from Tomorrow

With Escape from Tomorrow, one fears the story behind the movie would loom larger than the movie itself. Luckily, that is not the case. After all, it opens with a decapitation on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.
05/06/2014 | Comments 0

Sorcerer

William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Documentary · Being Elmo: A...
Documentary
 

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey


The documentary ‘Being Elmo’ reveals the man behind the beloved Muppet.

Phil Bacharach November 16th, 2011

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
7:30 p.m. Thursday, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch
okcmoa.com
236-3100
$5-$8

If you’re a parent, grandparent or otherwise have spent a lot of time with kids, chances are you have an appreciation for Elmo, the furry, red Muppet of “Sesame Street.”

Elmo’s cute but not ingratiating (mostly), sweet but with enough of a toddler’s self-absorption to keep things from getting too cloying. The documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey,” which screens Thursday through Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, takes a page from its subject’s playbook to celebrate the artist behind the pop-culture phenomenon.

That artist is Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who breathed life into Elmo by giving the character a falsetto voice and a preschooler’s sweetness. As one interviewee notes, Clash is the superstar no one recognizes.

Raised in a modest neighborhood outside Baltimore, he immersed himself as a child in TV’s “Captain Kangaroo” and “The Wonderful World of Disney.” Shy and deferential, he was especially transfixed by Jim Henson’s Muppet creations on “Sesame Street.” The admiring boy began making his own puppets, cutting the fuzzy lining of his dad’s overcoat to fashion a monkey.

By the time Clash was 17, he had landed a gig on a local TV kids’ show and gained a valuable mentor in famed puppeteer Kermit Love. Within a couple of years, Clash entered the Henson fold, working on the movie “Labyrinth” and eventually earning a spot on “Sesame Street.”

Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and benefited by an excess of remarkable archival footage, “Being Elmo” is an affable and charming look at an affable and charming personality. It is also fairly gushing; anyone expecting a warts-and-all documentary will be disappointed.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a surface approach, of course, but directors Constance Marks and Philip Shane allude to potentially meaty topics without delving any deeper. Clash concedes that his workaholic tendencies have made him something of an absent father to his teenaged daughter. That seems an irresistible irony for someone whose job is about delighting children, but “Being Elmo” pays it only perfunctory attention.

The documentary is most appealing when it lets Elmo be Elmo. Clash’s joy in performing is palpable, and it’s easy to understand when you see terminally ill children visiting Elmo on the “Sesame Street” set.

“I knew that Elmo should represent love,” Clash says, recounting how he shaped the puppet’s persona.

The cynical among us might scoff at such a pronouncement as being mawkish or pretentious, but such detractors are the very ones who need Elmo most of all.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 

 

 
 
 
Close
Close
Close