This charming film tells the story of Kevin Clash. Passing him in the street, you’d probably think that the most extraordinary thing about this 6ft black man is his height. Actually, Kevin is the voice – and spirit – of Elmo, the internationally loved, furry red monster who has become one of the Muppet Show’s most successful characters.
Kevin is also Sesame Street’s Senior Puppet Coordinator and ‘Muppet Captain’, as well as Sesame Workshop’s Senior Creative Consultant. The sort of job that most kids dream of – but would never actually pursue. Of course, Kevin wasn’t like most kids.
As a small child growing up in Baltimore, USA, he was drawn to the world that he had discovered through his TV set. He loved the children’s series Captain Kangaroo, and he wanted to live in Disneyland. Then, when Kevin was nine, Sesame Street launched. He watched the first show in amazement, as there were black people, white people and Latinos in it – just like his own neighbourhood. And if that wasn’t enough, the Muppets then came on screen, talking directly into the camera, to the kids watching from their living rooms. He was mesmerised.
By the time he was ten, Kevin was making his own puppets. He became obsessed with learning about the man behind the Muppets, Jim Henson, and the techniques used to create them. Despite being bullied at high school for ‘playing with dolls’, he persevered with the help of his extremely supportive parents, building a collection of 85 hand-made puppets.
Being Elmo is the inspirational and heart-warming story of an ordinary black kid, from a poor American family whose focus and hard work take him on an amazing life journey, bringing him huge success doing what he loves.
This is an absolutely adorable film. I’ll even admit to shedding a tear a few times in seeing the joy the puppets bring to children and understanding the impact Kevin’s obsession had on his personal life. I left the cinema wanting to return immediately with my godchildren – whilst secretly knowing that was just an excuse for me to see it again. If you’re looking for something to give you a lovely warm feeling inside, look no further than Being Elmo .