Reviewed by: John-Paul Morgante
Starring: Kevin Clash, Mandy Patinkin, Vanessa Williams | Directed by Gary Halvorson | Produced by Alex Rockwell, Marjorie Kalins | Written by Mitchell Kriegman, Joey Mazzarino | Distributed by Columbia Pictures
“Elmo in Grouchland” is a fun-loving film targeted directly for the Sesame Street generation with all of their regular characters—muppet and human—casted in the film. It is silly at times and always spirited with colorful song and dance routines that seem to light up the children’s eyes. Your younger children will walk away saying, “That was fun!”
The basic story is about Elmo’s search for his favorite blue blanket which is sent into Grouchland following a game of tug-of-war. The tickable muppet must venture into the mysterious land where he encounters the selfish Huxley, played by Mandy Patankin, and the Queen of Trash, played by Vanessa Williams.
The film begins with Bert and Ernie, who act as narrators of sorts, encouraging the audience to participate in the film. They return at selected moments—usually when Elmo is in trouble—to reassure the audience not to worry and that all will turn out alright in the end. It is a nice touch for those children who may get upset by some of the “adventures” Elmo encounters.
The film attempts to entertain and to teach focusing on the evils of selfishness, the benefits of teamwork, and the need for courage in the face of trials. Although the “lessons” are valuable, the focus is not Christian and seems to rely upon man’s ability to overcome as opposed to God’s grace and empowering strength. But that may be too much to ask of a movie and these lessons can easily be taught to your children after the film using its scenes as a point of reference.
Some may think the scenes with the Queen of Trash, dressed in a tight body suit, to be a little suggestive but I found that my children simply thought her to be a “pretty lady.” In the end, there is not much to object to in this film. It is a good way to spend an afternoon at the movies with your children followed by an ice cream cone and sincere conversation. Enjoy!
Year of Release—1999