Being Elmo



Inspiring docu about the man behind the Muppet superstar.
  • Review Date: October 21, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 76 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will learn about what it takes to become a puppeteer, as well as lessons related to perseverance and following your passions.

Positive messages

The movie's messages are to believe in yourself and do what you love, and you'll find a way to turn your passions into a rewarding career and satisfying life. That's what Kevin Clash did, and he makes it clear that other people can do so as well, as long as they have faith in themselves.

Positive role models

Clash, who dreamed of becoming a Sesame Street puppeteer and finally made his dreams come true, is an excellent role model for young people who are trying to imagine what they might like to do with their lives and how they can make it happen.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

The entire film promotes Sesame Street and one of its most popular characters, Elmo. It also includes many references to other TV shows and films that feature puppets.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Brief drug reference.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this inspiring documentary about Kevin Clash -- whose dreams of becoming a puppeteer came true when he grew up to become the hands and voice of Sesame Street's beloved Elmo -- shows that if you believe in yourself and work hard at something you love, you can achieve greatness. Not surprisingly for a film set in the world of Sesame Street, there's very little for parents to worry about, though the film may not appeal to the youngest Elmo fans since it's more about Clash than the Sesame characters. There's a passing reference to the strain between Clash and his wife and daughter, whom he doesn't see as often as he'd like because of his busy schedule, but it's handled sensitively.

What's the story?

When Kevin Clash first set eyes on Sesame Street and its cast of Muppet characters as a boy, he immediately realized what he wanted to do with his life: make puppets and bring them to life. By high school he was performing on local TV shows in Baltimore, and eventually he caught the eye of his idol, Jim Henson, the man who created Kermit the Frog and the rest of the Muppets. BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER'S JOURNEY traces Clash's journey from a teenager to the man who created the global Muppet phenomenon Elmo.

Is it any good?


As a kid who spent his free time making puppets, young Clash was sometimes teased by his peers -- and even his family occasionally wondered he wasn't more interested in sports. But he never wavered: He had already identified his dream, and he didn't want to do anything else. Eventually, his love of puppetry led him to Sesame Street, where he created the amazingly popular Elmo, a character who brings joy to children around the world.


Whoopi Goldberg narrates this inspiring film, which follows a simple chronological arc from Clash's childhood to global acclaim. It never over-trumpets its simple, heartfelt message: Believe in yourself, follow your dreams, and good things will come. Being Elmo simply shows that if you love what you do, trust yourself, and give back to others who may need mentoring, other people will recognize the joy in your work, and you'll be rewarded. This is a valuable lesson for kids and adults.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Clash's life. How did his family react to his boyhood drive to make puppets and bring them to life? Did any of them expect his hobby to become an amazing career?

  • What do you like to do? What are your dreams? Do you think you can turn any of your favorite activities into a career?

  • What do you think about seeing the real people behind your favorite Sesame Street Muppet characters? Is it weird or interesting?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 21, 2011
DVD release date:April 3, 2012
Cast:Kevin Clash, Whoopi Goldberg
Director:Constance Marks
Studio:Submarine Deluxe
Topics:Great boy role models, Puppets
Run time:76 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some mild language including a brief drug reference

This review of Being Elmo was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byTaxemm April 6, 2012

Elmo loves you!

We just caught this airing on PBS last night quite accidently and were enthralled! I watched it with my 7.5 and 12 year old and it was very well done and informative. I grew up in the 70s and fondly remember Sesame Street. My girls both watched Elmo's World on Sesame Street and we had many videos of just his show. Kevin Clash is heartwarming and a pleasure to watch
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 8 and 11 year old Written byMattmchugh March 29, 2012

Perfect film for kids who have left the "Sesame" years

If you have kids -- say 7 and up -- that are beyond the age of "Sesame Street," this movie a perfect bridge in that it recalls childhood memories, and show how adults create environments that nurture children. Part of the pain of growing up is leaving behind things you loved. This movie says you don't have to, that you can take deeper joy in sharing those things with the next generation. I'm speaking as an adult interpreting this film. Kids will just find it engrossing. Every kid who watches this will want to be a puppeteer, at least for a day. And Kevin Clash -- an African-American from a working class background -- comes off as the sweetest human being on the planet. He is undoubtedly a very talented artist who works incredibly hard, but this movie almost makes it seem like his phenomenal success stems mostly from the fact he never lost his sense of joy and wonder. Not a bad message for anybody at any age. I highly recommend this.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written bymoviefan115 March 17, 2012

A really inspiring documentary!

I always have loved Elmo, and I was so happy to find out that its puppeter had parents who helped him follow his dream. I really love this!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much consumerism


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