Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland [1999]

Welcome to Grouchland, U.S.A., place of a thousand stenches. This is where everyone's favorite red monster winds up when he stars in his first feature film, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Elmo learns a lesson when he refuses to share his blanket with his best friend, Zoe, then loses it in Oscar's can, where it goes all the way to Grouchland. There the beloved blanket winds up in the clutches of the greediest man alive, Huxley (played by Mandy Patinkin), and Elmo has to venture alone to Huxley's lair to get it back. The Sesame Street gang follows Elmo but ends up in the Grouchland jail. Fortunately, whenever things start looking too bleak, our hosts Ernie and Bert stop the film and offer reassurance. There are also numerous opportunities for audience participation (canned kids' voices will prevent parents from feeling too silly when viewing at home). This 73-minute film has plenty to entertain the youngsters as well as details and inside jokes for parents. And of course there are marvelous animated effects--although seeing Elmo dance in 1999 isn't quite as remarkable as it was to see Kermit ride a bicycle in 1977's The Muppet Movie. The songs are fun and bouncy, and veteran performers Patinkin and Vanessa Williams (as the Queen of Trash) contribute their exceptional talent. The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland was conceived as a film kids could see in theaters; in the safe environs of home, it's good fun for anyone over the age of 2, or even younger in small doses. --David Horiuchi

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