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Film / The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland

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Welcome to Grouchland! NOW SCRAM!

The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999) is the second Sesame Street movie, following Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird. This one centers around the lovable red Muppet Elmo. It is directed by Gary Halvorson, with the screenplay by Mitchell Kriegman and Joey Mazzarino and the story by Kriegman.

Elmo (Kevin Clash) loves his furry blue blanket more than almost anything in the world. When Zoe (Fran Brill) wants to play with it, he refuses, as it's his. They tug, and Elmo's blanket is nearly ripped—and a gust of wind blows it into Oscar's trash can and through a portal to Grouchland.

Elmo enters Grouchland to retrieve his blanket, but finds it just in time to have it stolen by Huxley (Mandy Patinkin), who considers everything to be his. Elmo embarks on an epic quest across the land to reach Huxley's home and rescue his blanket—and meanwhile, his friends are searching for him.

This movie provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: It's not nice to hog possessions, even if they are special to you. Elmo did not know of this trope, Huxley however did know what he was doing is very immoral and selfish, but he was proud of it.
  • Alphabet Song: While everyone is locked up, Big Bird sings this in an attempt to make the best of it and cheer the two grouches in his cell, who obviously did not like hearing it.
  • Another Dimension: Grouchland is an alternate world where all the Grouches live, and everything there runs on Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: The Queen of Trash manages to break Elmo's pride with this.
    Well, you certainly sound like Huxley.
  • Art Shift / Big Budget Beef-Up: Like the previous film, as opposed to shooting on the TV budget New York set, they opted to build a bigger, more feature-laden set somewhere else (Wilmington, NC) with new elements not seen in the show, including a laundromat, deli and a variety of outdoor vendors. (As a side note, it was also the last time characters and elements from the TV show's 1993 expansion "around the corner" were seen.) There's also a few quick scenes featuring full-bodied muppets with greenscreen removal for the puppeteers.
  • Ascended Extra: Elmo did appear in Follow That Bird, but it was only in a background cameo during the ending scene. In this film, he's the star and titular character.
  • Audience Participation: The audience is encouraged to help Elmo at certain points.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Precious Wings" is an inspirational song played during the end credits.
  • Bad Boss: Huxley mistreats Bug terribly.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: It's against the law to ask for help in Grouchland, and their likes and dislikes are backwards to ours.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Elmo's simple act of saying Bug is "very nice" for giving him (false) directions, and giving the latter a hug before continuing on his way, is what initiates Bug's Heel–Face Turn in the end.
  • Big Bad: Huxley. He's responsible for all the danger in the plot and Elmo getting back the blanket that he stole is his main objective. Huxley even admits to being evil.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the movie, Elmo shouts, "STOP!" for Huxley to release Grizzy; Oscar, normally a grouchy Grouch, rallies up the Grouches of Grouchland to fight against Huxley; and Bug does a complete Heel–Face Turn when he gives Elmo his blanket back.
  • Big Damn Movie: The second big movie for Sesame Street, involving Elmo traveling to Grouchland to retrieve his stolen blanket.
  • Big "NO!": Elmo, when he realizes that he was no different from Huxley.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Huxley has these. Appropriate enough, given that he lives among grouches.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Oscar's trash can serves as a portal to Grouchland.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: The Queen of Trash demands one hundred of these "raspberries" in a set time.
  • Breakout Character: Bug, who would later go on to be renamed "Bill the Bug" and become one of main characters of Panwapa Island.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: Seen on Elmo as he is trapped in a cave by Huxley's gang.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Huxley revels in being evil and greedy, stealing everything just because he can. He's notably the first true villain ever to appear in a Sesame Street story.
  • Companion Cube:
    • Elmo loves his blanket so much he talks to it, acts like it's alive, sleeps with it, and refuses to share it.
    • Grizzy also has her Soggy-Pants Sandy doll. She loves it and is first seen in the movie playing with it and singing a song about how her doll wets herself and does the Soggy-Pants dance.
  • Continuity Porn: The contents of Oscar's trash can, while briefly seen, are full of items and objects mentioned on the show.
  • Couldn't Find a Tissue: When Elmo's runaway blanket comes floating down to him, Oscar unknowingly sneezes right into it. Then he just tosses it right into his trashcan—which happens to be a portal to the eponymous Grouchland.
  • Creator Cameo: According to Matt Vogel (who performed a goat in the scene where several forest animals are fleeing from the humongous chicken), the donkey screaming, "CHICKEN!" was played by Brian Henson, who served as an executive producer for the film.
  • Crowd Chant: After Oscar's Rousing Speech, he leads his friends and all of Grouchland's citizens in chanting, "When they take our goo, we gotta do!" as they march to Mt. Pickanose.
  • Cuckoo Clock Gag: Elmo is awakened by a clock that has a little bird come out of it and scream, "WAKE UP!".
  • Darkest Hour: After narrowly escaping being eaten by a giant chicken, Elmo starts to give up on getting his blanket back.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Elmo enters Grouchland through the Oscar's Trash Can that he's kept in.
  • Downer Ending: Discussed in-universe by Bert and Ernie; Ernie is sure audiences wouldn't want to see a movie with a sad ending only for Bert to name several famous examples.
  • Embodiment of Vice: Huxley embodies Greed, though he denies that in his song:
    "Some may call it greed;
    it's not, it's need.
    A need I love to feed;
    The need to have a lot!
  • Everyone Has Standards: Oscar may be a hoarder of most stuff, but Huxley being selfish and keeping Elmo's blanket all to himself is where Oscar draws the line.
  • Friendship Denial: Played with, then subverted; Oscar almost calls Elmo his friend whilst he is imprisoned with the search party looking for Elmo, and even Big Bird caught what he was going to say at the last minute. Oscar denies it and says that instead he was going to say "French Fry Fish Hips". Oscar then admits, at the encouragement of the others, that Elmo is his friend.
  • Friendship Song: "Together Forever", Elmo's song about why his blanket is his Companion Cube and how they hope to be well, together forever.
  • A Gift for Themselves: Huxley tries to justify his stealing by calling it "giving to himself".
  • Goodness Exam: When Elmo denies any resemblance to Huxley, the Queen of Trash's servants demand she make him prove it. She does so by having him blow a hundred raspberries in thirty seconds, which she calls the "Ultimate Challenge", because she thinks if he does that, he's technically "giving" her the raspberries and Huxley would never give anyone anything.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Bug eventually turns good. The same applies to the Grouches on a marginal level.
  • The Hero's Journey: Elmo goes through one, almost by the numbers.
  • Hidden Depths: Oscar brings out the best in the Grocuhes by rallying them to fight back against Huxley.
  • "I Can't Look!" Gesture: Big Bird covers his eyes just mere moments before Elmo, Telly, and Super Grover crash into each other and land in a heap.
    • During Ernie and Bert's second pause of the film, the latter does the same thing after he glances at the Huxo-copter flying off with Elmo's blanket.
  • Iconic Item: Elmo's blanket and Grizzy's Soggy-Pants Sandy doll.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Huxley literally does it at the end of his song.
  • I Want My Mommy!: One of the Pesties is heard saying this when trying to flee from the final confrontation.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Bug is completely ineffectual in his attempts to stop Elmo.
  • Jabba Table Manners: The Grouches have terrible manners..., to say the least.
  • Jerkass Realization: Elmo has one when the Queen of Trash compares him to Huxley. Just to drive the point home, there's a flashback of Elmo's behavior at the beginning of the movie, screaming at Zoe that his blanket is "Mine!" when Zoe asked him to share... which is the same way Huxley acts.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Elmo and Bug are cute characters meant to appeal to kids.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • When Elmo asks the audience to help blow raspberries for the Queen of Trash's "ultimate challenge", one of the Stenchmen takes note of it:
    Stenchman: He's getting help! Is that legal?
    • While Huxley spitefully gloats to Elmo about stealing the latter's blanket, Bug blurts out specifically synthetic details about Elmo's blanket. This leads Huxley to roll his eyes and say...
    Huxley: Bug, you really know how to ruin a villainous moment, don't you? Now get in the cartoonishly evil vehicle and drive!"
  • Large Ham: Overlaps with Evil Is Hammy too. Huxley gets a whole song about how evil he is, and spends much of his screen time hamming it up.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the other Sesame Street film Follow That Bird, this one is less intense.
  • MacGuffin: Elmo's blanket is the main reason he goes on his quest after Zoe rips it, the wind blows it away, and Huxley steals it.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Bug is terrible at being evil and acts as Huxley's voice of reason, which he ignores.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Combined with Because You Were Nice to Me above. After being a Butt-Monkey for most of the film, Bug is the one to return Elmo's blanket, after telling off an incapacitated Huxley, and then forces Huxley to promise to give back everything he stole or claimed as his own.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Queen of Trash, played by Vanessa Williams.
  • Music for Courage: "Take the First Step," although it's sung to only one person. By a plant and some woodland critters.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Bert first appears in his shower cap and towel.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Elmo is nice, Huxley is mean, and Bug is in-between.
  • No Fourth Wall:
    • Bert manages to pause the movie four times to ask Ernie about certain details (First, when Elmo is hurdling through the portal to Grouchland, second, after Huxley takes off with Elmo's blanket, third, when Huxley tells Bug his plans to lure Elmo into the Queen of Trash's kingdom, and lastly, when Elmo is sitting at the foot of Mt. Pickanose, at his "all-is-lost-moment"), as a way of reassuring the audience (and Bert) that everything will be fine.
    • Elmo himself directly addresses the audience a few times, either asking for help and advice, or just needing someone to talk to.
    • Bert and Ernie also address the audience once more when the movie ends, commenting on the happy ending, and telling the audience to give themselves a round of applause for playing along. Bert even stays behind to look at the credits, only persuaded to leave when Ernie tells him it's time to feed Bernice.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Elmo has this realization thanks to the Queen of Trash. Specifically, Huxley's constant attitude is "Mine!", because he can't share anything. Elmo acted the same way at the beginning of the film, refusing to share his blanket with Zoe "because it's mine!"
  • Old-Timey Cinema Countdown: The film begins with an old film reel. Seeing as the film was based on an Edutainment Show, Ernie has the audience count down along with the numbers.
  • Out of Focus: Cookie Monster. He joins the others on their journey to Grouchland, but he has no function in the story and gets very little to do.
  • Parental Bonus:
  • Parent Service: Vanessa Williams' scene provides a good deal of fanservice for adults.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Take The First Step", as Stuckweed encourages Elmo to go after Huxley and get his blanket back.
  • Police Are Useless: When the Sesame Street gang go to the Grouchland police for assistance in tracking Elmo, the police lock them up in a jail as it is a crime in Grouchland to ask the police for help!
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Huxley acts like a child but is a grown-up, and when Elmo breaks in to reclaim his blanket he tries to crush him with a stamper.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Bug gives a short, direct one to Huxley following his Heel–Face Turn:
    Bug: You're a greedy selfish villain, and nobody likes to be friends with a greedy selfish villain.
  • Road-Sign Reversal: Huxley's henchmen turn the arrow on the sign that leads to Huxley's Castle in the opposite direction to trap Elmo in a cave.
  • Rousing Speech: Oscar gives one to the Grouches while in prison.
  • Say My Name: While Elmo is trapped in a tunnel, the offscreen children's audience have to scream his name so he knows they can see him.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Despite appearing in a very small role, the Queen of Trash is proven to be a powerful influence as she managed to make Elmo see that he can be like Huxley. And all it took was giving him an Armor-Piercing Response.
  • Smash Cut: While the Sesame Street gang are in Grouchland, Big Bird spots a grouch police and Zoe decides to ask him for help finding Elmo. Which immediately cuts to the gang being thrown in jail.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The Pesties run away abandoning Huxley when the cooperative Grouches show up to rescue Elmo, with one Pestie admonishing Huxley for never paying them anyways.
  • Shadow Archetype: Huxley acts as this for Elmo, representing what would he be like if he refuses to share his possessions to anyone.
  • Studio Audience: Similar in vein with Blue's Clues, offscreen childrens' voices would respond to Elmo at some points, such as helping him find where his blanket went, or shouting out his name when trapped in the tunnel. Doubles as Fake Interactivity.
  • Tear-Apart Tug-of-War: A downplayed example; Zoe wants to hold Elmo's blanket, but Elmo is reluctant to let her borrow it even for a minute. When Elmo tries to take it back, he and Zoe have a tug-of-war over it, causing the blanket to rip. Fortunately, the blanket doesn't rip in half, but Elmo is still mad at Zoe and tells her she isn't his friend anymore.
  • Tempting Fate: "Why should Elmo be afraid of a little chicken?" (cue giant chicken foot landing in front of the little red monster)
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Bug gets a Heel–Face Turn and returns Elmo's blanket after enduring enough of Huxley's actions.
  • Token Good Teammate: Out of all the inhabitants of Grouchland USA, Grizzy, Stuckweed, the fireflies, The Queen of Trash, the caterpillar, and Bug are the nicest sheep you'll meet there.
  • Toilet Humor:
    • Grizzy's Soggy-Pants Sandy doll's main feature is the ability to wet her pants.
    • There is also the giant chicken, who complains he has gas..., then proceeds to burp and fart at the same time!
    • The citizens of Grouchland, the Grouches, also burp and fart at inopportune times.
  • Toy-Based Characterization: Grizzie plays with a doll who wets her pants, befitting a young Grouch.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Together Forever" returns at the end of the movie in a more celebratory manner after Elmo learns his lesson about sharing and reconciles with Zoe.
  • Unconventional Food Usage: It's revealed that Grouches, who are a whole species of pig-pens note , wash with cheese because shampoo is illegal.
  • Villain Song: Huxley's song, appropriately titled "Make it Mine!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: While we can assume Huxley for his many crimes of theft was sent to the same jail that the Sesame Street gang looking for Elmo went to, it's unknown what happened to the Pesties. They were last seen running away. It is ultimately subverted in the follow-up spin-off, Elmo in Grouchland Sing and Play Along video, as the Pesties are revealed to now live in Grouchland in the trash cans.

Alternative Title(s): Elmo In Grouchland


Elmo learns a new word

That's a new vocabulary your kids can learn!

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