"Intriguing to see the mechanics behind the madness and how Jim Henson's incredible vision was carried out..."

When watching Sesame Street as a child it never once crossed my mind that there was a bloke sitting under a table putting on a voice. Yet now, older and somewhat wiser, I can't think of anything more interesting than to delve into the life of the man behind the muppet, in Constance Marks fascinating documentary Being Elmo.

Kevin Clash grew up in humble surroundings in Baltimore, as a fervent admirer of Jim Henson, the visionary behind The Muppets. Despite having to withstand much jeering from his peers, Clash followed his dream and through a series of home-made puppets and shows in his own garden for local kids, it was only a mere matter of time before the talented youngster would move into television.

Following a move to New York, Clash began to work his way into The Muppets studio, taken in by veteran designer Kermit Love, who introduced Clash to his idols such as Henson and Frank Oz. From that point onwards Clash's move towards success and fame was meteoric as he took on the role of Elmo, creating a persona for the puppet which has touched the hearts of millions of children worldwide, and has been doing so now for over thirty years.

It's a fascinating premise for a documentary, although the film itself is done quite ordinarily. It feels very much like a typical television documentary, and despite the content being full of intrigue, it's lay-out and atmosphere feels somewhat generic, such as mood-defining soundtrack, and the interviews taking place in front of a wavy blue curtain.

Yet I did like how Marks used photographs within her feature, as when recounting past memories much of the imagery is told via the still image, and Marks cleverly juxtaposed the images over the top of different backgrounds and settings, like a collage, almost feeling as though she is bringing the past to life. I also admired Marks for avoiding the sentimental aspects to Clash's tale, managing to steer away from the "boy from the suburbs..." angle, and not becoming all schmaltzy, which had been expected.

My biggest concern with the feature is the lack of exploration into Clash's personal life. So much of Being Elmo is actually about his career rather than his life at home. Perhaps that was a request of Clash's, but it prevents the film from being the classic it could so easily have been. There are deep issues to be explored, such as the breakdown of his marriage and the turbulent relationship he has with his daughter. His divorce appears to be a result of him being Elmo, and despite touching upon that lightly, that is exactly what we need to witness and the sort of material Marks needs for her production. For all of the good Elmo has done for Clash, we need to see both sides and how the workload and persona affected his personal life.

On a similar note, Marks needed to look into Clash's mental state,  as he is clearly a child at heart and may potentially be suffering as a result. This is exemplified in his sheer wonderment of having his own child. It may seem somewhat exploitive to investigate this side to Clash's character but it makes for compelling viewing - like Dig!, for example, where we witness the break down of Anton Newcombe.

On a more positive note, Being Elmo works as a wonderful insight into the world of The Muppets and how it all works, with a tour of the studio and interviews with a host of the leading figures behind the success of our fuzzy-faced friends. It's intriguing to see the mechanics behind the madness and how Henson's incredible vision was carried out. And thanks to the subject matter, we are treated to a many funny clips and out-takes from The Muppets Show and Sesame Street, which are always great fun.

However despite fulling appreciating Being Elmo I can't help but feel that it isn't as good as it should be, unfulfilling in many ways given the potential in Clash. Yet it's very touching in parts and really looks into a quite heartening story of one youngsters dream, and, albeit an odd one, one that has been carried out with great, great success - ultimately the key theme to the film.

Within The Muppets recently released production they asked a very important and contemplative question: "Are you a man or a muppet?" Well herein lies the perfect answer, as in Being Elmo, we get both.