The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland

Elmo loves his blanket, Blanket. They are best friends and almost inseparable, until fate enters the picture. Blanket, because of a selfish action by Elmo, is blown away from the little monster and lands in the hands of Oscar the Grouch. Oscar blows his nose on the binky and tosses it into his trash can. When Elmo goes into the can after Blanket, he enters the world of Grouchland and begins a journey to find his precious mantle. The ruler of Grouchland, the greedy Huxley (Mandy Patinkin), has taken Blanket for his own and it is up to Elmo to get it back in "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland."

Laura's Review: B

Little, red furry Elmo is the 'baby' of Sesame St. and all its denizens watch out for him. Elmo loves his blanket very much and when his best friend attempts to hold it, Elmo grabs it back until it rips and then is tossed into the air by a roller blading muppet and hurtles into Oscar the Grouch's garbage can. Distraught, Elmo enters Oscar's domain and falls into a psychedelic portal to Grouchland, where everything smells and no one will cooperate. Grouchland is kept under the thumb of the evil tyrant Huxley (Mandy Patinkin) who takes every material object he wants and declares it his (he has 'Mine' stamped onto everything). Of course, as soon as Elmo locates his blanket on a dump heap, Huxley snatches it away. The pursuit of Elmo's blanket, and the Sesame St. humans and muppets attempt to go to Grouchland and find Elmo, make up the drama of "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland." This is a sweet little film that will amuse (and teach) the kiddies (about seven and under, I'd say). Bert and Ernie intro the film and frequently stop it to comment on the action - they also encourage audience participation in such things as countdowns (childrens' responses can be heard on the soundtrack). There are a few clever asides for the adults (a jibe at Starbucks, Bert and Ernie's discussion on 'happy endings') and Patinkin makes villainous hay while performing some Broadway-like numbers. Also on hand is Vanessa Williams ("Dance With Me") as the Trash Queen who performs a vampy song and dance routine (before encouraging Elmo to pay a toll of 'raspberries,' which surely will have parents shuddering!) Elmo and his friends prevail, but not before Elmo's had some serious self-relevation about his own selfishness. The film looks bright and cheerful and moves along at under 90 minutes.

Robin's Review: A-

"The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" is one of the best little kids' film to show up since "Muppet Treasure Island," maybe longer. The puppet masters at Jim Henson Productions, in conjunction with Children's Television Workshop, meld elements and characters from the long-running "Sesame Street" TV show and the musical numbers and slightly subversive humor from the old Muppet Show. As one would expect, the ties to Sesame Street are many. From the opening sequence when the film starts with a countdown from 10 to 1 (led by Bert and Ernie) to its tale of Elmo's redemption from selfishness, the movie pays much homage to its roots in the groundbreaking TV show. Good values and positive role models make this a movie that parents can feel good about for their kids. Sweet and adorable Elmo (voiced by Kevin Clash) is perfect as the hero who learns why being selfish is wrong. Mandy Patinkin is outstanding as the selfish Huxley and personifies greed. When Elmo defeats him, the kids will cheer. Vanessa Williams is terrific as the Queen of Trash and is a natural with her puppet minion. Of course, there is also the roster of Sesame Street characters. Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Bert & Ernie and the rest all help out Elmo in his quest and are a ready made identifier for the toddler set. The music numbers used to entertain and carry the story forward are beautifully done and provide real variety. Patinkin's Huxley shows that being selfish is not a good thing with his manic song, "Make It Mine!" Vanessa Williams, as the Queen of Trash belts out the virtues of garbage with the upbeat "Point of View." The inherent good humor of the film is exemplified by the rousing Grouch number, "Welcome to Grouchland - Now Scram!" Elmo is inspired to overcome his fears when the grouches sing "Take the First Step." Parents won't mind when the kids watch this on video a couple of hundred times. They'll most likely sing right along, too. First-time helmer Gary Halvorson and his talented cast and crew capture the mirth and big heart of Jim Henson's creation. Bert & Ernie and works hard to involve the diminutive viewers in the action narrate the movie, sort of. B&E and Elmo talk directly to the kids, from time to time, soliciting vocal assistance form the audience. Some parents may not be too happy, though, when Elmo is faced with The Ultimate Challenge - he has to give 100 "raspberries" in 30 seconds and asks for help from the kids watching. Hopefully, raspberries won't become the set response by the kindergarten set. "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" is one monster movie that parents won't mind the kids watching. You can see why Elmo attained a cult following a couple of years ago. He's a nice little monster and a good model for kids to emulate. There is humor, song, outstanding fantasy creatures and sets, and just a whole lot of fun. "Elmo" scores a bull's-eye with its target audience of little kids (and their parents).