Being a kid of the 80s meant a good percentage of my early education came from Sesame Street, and its assortment of characters breaking down maths (cheers Count!), spelling (R…..UN?) and moral dilemnas, like the most diplomatic way to share important things like cookies, according to Ernie and Bert.
But by the time Elmo – first created in 1972 – became popular in the mid-80s, I’d already been won over by Kermit, Cookie and co to pay him much mind; but little did I know that loving red monster with the infectious giggle would go on to become a phenomenon, touching the lives of young people around the globe, thanks to his creator Kevin Clash. It’s his story that’s at the centre of Being Elmo, a heartwarming documentary which shows how a young, working class man from Baltimore and his obsession with puppetry would lead him to develop one of the most recognisable Jim Henson characters in the world. The witty and chronological narrative gives us a chance to discover where Kevin grew up and his early puppets, join him when he makes the big move to New York and meets his mentors Kermit Love and Henson, and even see glimpses of his personal life and the impact his talent had on his ex-wife and daughter. But this isn’t your typical “truth behind the man” doc that tries to dig up scintillating skeletons (although the source of Clash’s talent is never quit nailed, we don’t get an insight into his net worth while the uniqueness of being a rare black puppeteer is briefly skirted over). Rather, with the help of narration from Whoopi Goldberg and an insightful range of interviews from family and friends, the doc’s cheerful moral and story will leave you nothing short of inspired.
In UK cinemas from April 27th.