*** (out of four)
“The Muppets” star/co-writer Jason Segel sees nothing wrong with adults loving to entertain children of all ages with puppets. Neither does Kevin Clash, who grew up admiring Jim Henson and later befriended the entertainment innovator as Clash worked on “Labyrinth” and “Sesame Street” and, through his voice and puppetry, turned Elmo into the superstar he is today.
This 73-minute documentary by Constance Marks and Philip Shane traces Clash's life from his Baltimore-area adolescence—where he dreamed of living in Disney World but didn't have the money to visit—to the local TV opportunities that landed him his big breaks.
Clash's personal life and the daughter he admits to neglecting in favor of work receive less attention than his professional trajectory, which sparkles with innocence and inspiration as Clash builds puppets, develops characters and generates smiles on the faces of kids with disabilities and others with terminal illnesses.
Very simply, “Being Elmo” is an affectionate story of how the voice and personality behind Elmo became who he is: A shy kid with a lot of talent, who is now a giant star few would recognize on the street. Sesame or otherwise.