‘Being Elmo’ And ‘Beautiful Boy’

I don’t remember being in love with Elmo.

It seems to me that the “Sesame Street” character’s popularity really exploded after I had stopped watching the show three times on some days. My two brothers and I were VERY dedicated to the show.

I still have a soft spot for “Sesame Street.” Sometimes, when taken by liquid spirits, I start naming the people around me based upon which “Sesame” character they conjure up in my mind.

Me? I’m “Super Grover.”

I had the distinct pleasure of revisiting my love of all things “Sesame Street” and Jim Henson last night while watching “Being Elmo: A Pupeteer’s Journey.” The documentary, which is streaming on Netflix, tells the story of Kevin Clash, the man who brings Elmo to life.

It’s an amazing story. Clash came from very humble beginnings but fell in love with the puppetry on “Captain Kangaroo” and Jim Henson productions. He began assembling his own puppets as a kid, eventually working with a local Baltimore affiliate and finally getting jobs on “Captain Kangaroo,” Jim Henson films and “Sesame Street.”

Watching the effect his puppetry has on kids, I can’t help but reminisce about the endless hours my brothers and I would spend with our beloved, multi-colored television friends.

The second film I finished up was “Beautiful Boy,” starring two really great actors — Maria Bello and Michael Sheen.

They are a married couple on the verge of a break-up when their son goes on a shooting spree at his college before killing himself.

That may sound the the premise of a bloody, exploitative movie.

However, the film wisely stays away from the crime and focuses instead on the parents — their disbelief, shame, grief and guilt. It’s intense, and I found it quite believable.

I found myself wondering how I would react under such circumstances. A boy who you raised and loved unexpectedly decides to end his life in a murderous bloodbath. There is no way to prepare for that.

Bello and Sheen give us a powerful example of how one might respond to such an excruciating event.

I have to thank Roger Ebert for bringing the film, which is streaming on Netflix, to my attention.

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