The Adventures Of Elmo In Grouchland Review
By Rob Blackwelder
Poor Elmo's precious blanket has been stolen and it's our job to help him get it back in "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" -- a "Sesame Street" spin-off flick in which the baby-voiced little red monster slips through a rainbow-colored wormhole in Oscar's trash can home and lands in the green grumpy's native land.
The movie is a thinly veiled lesson about sharing and cooperation, and Elmo arrives in Grouchland in search of his missing blanket only to see it spirited away by a greedy ogre named Huxley -- played with fantastically theatrical, palm-rubbing aplomb by Broadway luminary Mandy Patinkin (best known to movie audiences as Inigo Montoya in "The Princess Bride"), who steals scenes while his character takes everything else.
Huxley is so mean that he flies around in a "cartoonishly evil vehicle" with a vacuum hose on the front, taking whatever he wants without asking and declaring "Mine! Mine! Mine!" in a tantrum-like fashion most parents and children will surely recognize.
With the grouch populace predictably unhelpful and unwilling to work together against the mean man with the bushy eyebrows, the dapper clown wardrobe and the cache of pop culture asides that keep adults entertained, Elmo sets out on his own for the meanie's distant, thrift shop-like castle on Mount Pickanose, determined to get his blankie back and finding a few adventures (and a few too many songs) along the way while Huxley's minions try to stop him.
Interrupted occasionally by a comically worried Bert and a reassuring Ernie, who promises a happy ending eventually, the audience is expected to participate in "Elmo in Grouchland," helping the little guy by talking to the screen. So if you're planning to take your tyke, do so early in the movie's run when there will hopefully be a good crowd to make it fun. The soundtrack is enhanced with its own audience sounds, so it will still play well on video (this one is definitely a kiddie keeper) once it comes to that. But in the theater, the more noisy kids, the better.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 1st October 1999
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Jim Henson Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Children's Television Workshop
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 10
Cast & Crew
Starring: Kevin Clash as Elmo / Grouch Jailer, Mandy Patinkin as Huxley, Vanessa Williams as Queen of Trash, Sonia Manzano as Maria, Roscoe Orman as Gordon, Fran Brill as Zoe / Pestie / Prairie Dawn, Stephanie D'Abruzzo as Grizzy / Pestie, Dave Goelz as Humongous Chicken, Joey Mazzarino as Bug, Jerry Nelson as Count / Pestie / Grouch Mayor / Grouch Cop, Carmen Osbahr as Rosita, Martin P. Robinson as Telly / Pestie / Laundromad Guy, David Rudman as Baby Bear / Fat Blue, Caroll Spinney as Big Bird / Oscar the Grouch, Steve Whitmire as Ernie / Stuckweed