This is Jeff Bayer, and I don't update this site very often. If you'd like to listen to my current movie podcast you can find it at MovieBS.com.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

SXSW film review

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

Director: Constance A. Marks The Muppet Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Meet the unlikely man behind the puppet - the heart and soul of Elmo - Kevin Clash. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this documentary includes rare archival footage and offers a behind-the-scenes look at Sesame Street and the Jim Henson Workshop.

WHO'S IT FOR? Do you have a heart? No seriously. That should be all it takes to enjoy this sweet little documentary.


There was a time in my life when I didn't like Elmo. I thought he pandered. I thought it was too cute for the education-first "Sesame Street."

Thanks to Kevin Clash, "like" has now given way to "love." That's what Elmo exemplifies and this documentary is a nod to Kevin, and most importantly what Jim Henson had hoped to create.

The film has great archival footage and we go way back with Kevin as a little kid. He's been obsessed with TV and puppets for a long time and thankfully, we get to see that instead of just hear people talking about it. Actually listening is one small complaint I have with this film mainly because of the narrator Whoopi Goldberg. She's not in it much, but I realize that Goldberg is no longer an actress or performer for me, she's a talking head from "The View." That's not the vibe I need with my Muppets.

We watch Kevin go from a Baltimore TV station to "Captain Kangaroo" then, with an insane amount of hard work, he makes it to "Sesame Street." It's a feel good story, even though I feel some things were brushed by. Mainly, why did he get divorced? There was a scene where Kevin is videotaping his wife's trip to the hospital, about to give birth, and he's talking in his Elmo voice. Too cute? Eventually annoying? I want to know.

Luckily, for this documentary, it's never too cute or annoying to watch Kevin give back. His work with the "Make a Wish" foundation is so preciously captured, it's tough to keep a dry eye.

Did you notice in the beginning of my review I referred to Elmo as if he's a person, and not just stuffing? As you'll see with this documentary, Elmo literally, not figuratively, fell into Kevin's lap. We should all be thankful that happened.


Win Win