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A side of ‘Sesame Street’ just for parents: ‘Being Elmo’

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Reel Mama: A side of ‘Sesame Street’ just for parents: ‘Being Elmo’

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A side of ‘Sesame Street’ just for parents: ‘Being Elmo’

Elmo skiing at the Sundance Film Festival.  The documentary film "Being Elmo" is a darling of the film festival circuit.
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If you are the parent of a preschooler, you might be feeling all "Elmo'ed out".  The typical tot’s daily routine might include any of the following: Elmo toothbrush in the morning; Elmo t-shirt, shoes, diapers, and socks; snacks shaped like Elmo or endorsed by Elmo; maybe an episode of "Sesame Street” or two during the day, and Elmo sheets and blanket at night.  At one point my own daughter was calling out for Elmo instead of me in the night.
Yet there is another side to Elmo: a human side, one that grownups will find fascinating.  Elmo's alter ego and creator is Kevin Clash, and you can get to know him in the feel-good documentary “Being Elmo.”  From his humble beginning as the Baltimore kid who never quite fit in due to his obsession with puppetry, to ultimately becoming one of Jim Henson’s most trusted puppeteers, Kevin Clash’s meteoric rise is inspiring and remarkable.  

Kevin Clash with a future "Sesame Street" puppeteer
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With the passing of Henson, Clash eventually became the creative force behind “Sesame Street” as executive producer.  In addition to voicing and operating Elmo, he directs episodes, writes, and supervises in front of and behind the camera.
The story of how Elmo came to be is fascinating.  While most current documentaries portray gritty realities, “Being Elmo” is just the opposite, and is bound to leave viewers feeling warm and fuzzy.  The film contains some mild language that makes it inappropriate for Elmo’s usual preschool fan base, but if as a parent you can handle just a little more Elmo, you’ll find this film to be well worth your time.

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