Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey 2011 ★★★

Kevin Clash might be an unfamiliar name, but since 1985 he has been the hands and voice behind Elmo, the perpetually sunny resident of Sesame Street whose popularity now eclipses that of all the other characters. In truth, I find Elmo's one-dimensional lack of cynicism to be a tad cloying compared to the other more rounded Muppets and Sesame Street characters, but there's no denying his ability to connect to young children on an emotional level - as witnessed at several rather moving points in this documentary about Clash's life and career. Seeing Clash train other puppeteers, his ability to breath genuine life into felt is quite remarkable, and for the most part he comes across as a charming and sincere man who achieved his childhood ambition of working with the Muppets through determination and talent. At times one gets the sense we're not being told the whole story; a single cursory mention of an ex-wife hints that Clash's life has not quite been the dream-factory we're told it is, and an odd passage where he laments the amount of time spent away from his daughter as she grew up is brushed away with a wince-inducing segment at her 16th birthday party. The feeling that we're being spun a line rather taints the documentary, as does the totally unnecessary Whoopi Goldberg voiceover, but fans of the Muppets (like myself) will find a lot to enjoy here.

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