Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

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

I didn't grow up with Sesame Street, didn't have a childhood filled with Big Birds and Cookie Monsters. Heck, the first experience of Jim Henson's Muppets I can really recall having is their film earlier this year (not including Labyrinth and Dark Crystal, that is). What's striking is that this documentary portrait never for a second relies on the nostalgia factor, nor on its audience's familiarity with the various characters. What it does rely on is an appreciation of the magic of entertainment: how our passions in life can drive and consume us; how the simplest of things can unite us all around the world. There's a wonderful genuineness to Kevin Clash, the puppeteer of Elmo, and hearing his story is as entertaining as it is enlightening. It's a tale of success born of hard will and determination, of unflinching pursuit of one's goals in life, and of the satisfaction it brings to live the life you always dreamed. In filmmaking terms it's not a special documentary, but for the entire running time I had the widest of smiles on my face. I didn't grow up with Sesame Street, but this film made me feel as though I had.

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