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Just like the preschool aged audience this movie is aimed at, Elmo's best friend is his blanket. One sunny day he happily sets off to the coin laundry along with the rest of the Sesame Street gang, to give his blanket a spin. But then something goes wrong. Selfishness rears its ugly head when Zoe decides she wants his blanket, too. The resulting tug-of-war sends the prized possession into the air, eventually landing in Oscar the Grouch's garbage can. Elmo plunges after it in a determined rescue effort.
Have you ever wondered what is down there? As it turns out there is a secret tunnel leading to Grouchland -- Oscar's hometown. But before Elmo can adjust to his new surroundings, a greedy character named Huxley snatches the blanket and takes it to his home. Elmo will have to overcome many obstacles to reach the castle high atop Mount Pickanose if he wants his blanket back.
In sympathy for the anxiety the villain may cause little viewers, Bert and Ernie often stop the action to explain the frightening things happening in the story. The audience is also encouraged to help the little monster by talking to him (You can do it Elmo!), and there are frequent interruptions in the plot for musical numbers (kind of like the TV show). These are all nice gestures, because Huxley is too scary for the intended audience and the blanket is of too little consequence for every one else. Besides, without their inclusion the plot could have been accomplished in a quarter of the time.
Personally, I find Elmo's squeaky little voice and hyperactive tendencies annoying in the five-minute doses offered on television, but that is not my reason for being disappointed in the film. Huxley's greed is not dealt with in a creative way. Physical restraint is used -- like always. I guess the attitude is that greedy people can never change. Perhaps I'm guilty of feeling the same way about producers of children's movies.
Elmo In Grouchland is rated G:
Cast: Kevin Clash, Many Patinkin
Studio: (pictures (c) 1999 Columbia Pictures, Inc.)