The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland

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The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland
Elmo in Grouchland Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gary Halvorson[1]
Produced by Alex Rockwell
Marjorie Kalins[1]
Screenplay by Mitchell Kriegman
Joey Mazzarino[1]
Story by Mitchell Kriegman[1]
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Alan Caso[1]
Edited by Alan Baumgarten
Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing[2]
Release date
  • October 1, 1999 (1999-10-01)
Running time
77 minutes
  • United States
  • Germany
Language English
Budget $26 million[2]
Box office $11.7 million[2]

The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland is a 1999 musical-comedy adventure film directed by Gary Halvorson. It is the second theatrical feature-length film based on the popular U.S. children's series Sesame Street, the first being Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird in 1985. Produced by Jim Henson Pictures in association with the Children's Television Workshop and released by Columbia Pictures on October 1, 1999,[1] the film co-stars Mandy Patinkin and Vanessa Williams alongside Muppet performers Kevin Clash, Jerry Nelson, Frank Oz, and Steve Whitmire. This is one of the few Sesame Street productions directly produced by Jim Henson Pictures. Alongside Muppets from Space, this is the final Muppet-themed feature film to have the involvement of Oz, who retired from being a full-time puppeteer the following year.[3]


The film begins with Bert and Ernie introducing the film. As the story opens, Elmo is playing with his fuzzy cotton blue blanket in his bedroom. After spilling juice on his Blanket, he takes it to the laundromat and has it washed and dried. When he is about to take his Blanket home, Elmo encounters his friend Zoe, who is feeling depressed because her father, due to having to work, cannot take her to the zoo, so Elmo decides to cheer Zoe up by imitating some zoo animals. When Zoe sees Elmo's Blanket, Elmo refuses to share it with her, resulting in a tug of war that rips Elmo's blanket. Upset at this, Elmo declares that Zoe is no longer his friend. Suddenly, Telly inadvertently takes away the blanket while rollerskating right out of control. This then leads into an epic chase around Sesame Street. Elmo ends up knocking Ruthie's glasses over, angering Ruthie in the process. Telly hits Cookie Monster at the revolving door of the Furry Arms hotel. Super Grover flies to get the blanket, but crashes. Finally, the blanket accidentally lands in the hands of Oscar the Grouch, who drops it in his trash can after sneezing into it.

Elmo dives into the bottom of Oscar's trash can, where he finds his Blanket snagged on a door. Elmo attempts to retrieve it, but Oscar pops up and says, "Hey, Elmo! Have a nice trip! Heh! Heh!" Elmo and Blanket are both teleported through a colorful, swirling tunnel to Grouchland, a city filled with Grouches, stinky garbage, and Huxley, a mean, immature and greedy man with unusually large eyebrows, who steals anything he can grab, including Elmo's blanket. Wanting his blanket back, Elmo begins a journey through Grouchland. A kind-hearted Grouch girl named Grizzy tells Elmo that his blanket is in Huxley's house at the top of the faraway Mount Pickanose, but also warns Elmo that he may never make it there. Feeling that Grizzy is right, Elmo becomes discouraged. However, a green plant named Stuckweed, encourages Elmo that he will make it and that he just has to take his first step into the journey, and Elmo sets out on a quest to get his Blanket back. Meanwhile, the Sesame Street residents are informed of Elmo's absence and go to Grouchland to find him, with help from Oscar. When Big Bird and Zoe find a Grouch police officer and ask him for help, the entire group ends up arrested and put in jail as the police officer informs them that it is against the law to ask for help in Grouchland.

Meanwhile, when Huxley is informed of Elmo coming to retrieve his Blanket, he has his trusted sidekick, Bug the bug, and his minions, the Pesties, trap Elmo in a tunnel. However, Elmo gets out with the help of fireflies. Upon noticing that Elmo is still coming, Huxley has Bug and the Pesties pose as construction workers, set up a fake construction zone, and misdirect Elmo into a nearby garbage dump, where he is forcibly brought before the Queen of Trash for trespassing in her kingdom. At first she assumes that Elmo might be in league with Huxley, Elmo denies this, but then, he remembers that he refused to share his blanket with Zoe, and feels ashamed. The Queen gives him what she believes is an impossible test by requesting that he blow 100 raspberries for her, in a set time of 30 seconds. By getting help from the audience, Elmo succeeds at this and the Queen allows him to continue on his way to Huxley's house. Left with no other remaining options to stop Elmo, Huxley sends his humongous chicken to confront Elmo, as the chicken mistakes Elmo for a worm. However, Elmo successfully convinces the chicken that he is not a worm, but this only prompts the chicken to toss Elmo far away, leaving Huxley to conclude that he defeated Elmo. Resting on a rock, Elmo realizes that night has come, and begins to give up on getting his Blanket back.

Meanwhile, Grizzy sneaks into the jail where she informs Elmo's friends that he went to Huxley's house. Oscar is convinced to help set things right as well as admitting that Elmo is his friend. He then convinces the police officer as well as all of the Grouches of Grouchland that the only way they can finally stop Huxley from stealing any more of their trash once and for all, is if they swallow their pride and work together. The police officer releases the Sesame Street residents and the Grouches aid them to go to Huxley's house to fight for their trash and rescue Elmo.

A caterpillar wakes up Elmo the next morning on the rock. He gives Elmo advice to look inside himself and he'll see that he has what it takes to be brave. Taking the caterpillar's advice, Elmo makes it to Huxley's house before Huxley has the chance to make Elmo's Blanket "his" blanket. However, Huxley sends the Pesties to stop Elmo from making his getaway, but Elmo evades the Pesties by jumping into a nearby laundry basket, and Huxley foils Elmo's getaway himself, by grabbing the basket with a remote controlled claw while Elmo is in it, intending to rubber stamp "MINE" on him. Just as Elmo is about to face the fate of never seeing his friends again, the Sesame Street and Grouchland citizens appear in time to rescue Elmo, and the Pesties flee in a panic. However, Huxley takes Elmo's Blanket again in all the chaos, and it is suddenly sucked it up with the vacuum cleaner nozzle on the front of Huxley's helicopter, as Elmo intentionally falls and launches the basket over Huxley's shoulders, incapacitating him. Promptly, everyone sees Bug at the controls of the helicopter with Elmo's Blanket, and Huxley demands it back. Bug refuses, as he has been sympathetic to Elmo, and gives Elmo back his Blanket. Elmo is hailed a hero by the Sesame Street and Grouchland citizens, while Huxley, shocked at being betrayed by his own sidekick, unsuccessfully tries to apologize to Bug for being greedy and selfish, promising to give back everything that he stole.

Happy to have finally gotten his Blanket back, Elmo returns to Sesame Street with his friends, where he apologizes to Zoe for not sharing his Blanket and hurting her feelings. He then allows her to hold his Blanket and she happily accepts his apology, agreeing that they can permanently resume their friendship. Elmo then says goodbye to the audience and thanks them for helping before going to dance with his friends, while Bert and Ernie congratulate the audience for playing along and head home as the film ends, but Bert briefly stays to look at the credits, only to leave when Ernie tells him that it is time to feed his pigeons.


Muppet Performers[edit]

Humans of Sesame Street[edit]

Other Humans[edit]

Additional Muppet performers[edit]



All the puppeteers who performed the primary Sesame Street characters (such as Kevin Clash, Jerry Nelson, Caroll Spinney and Fran Brill) were called to Wilmington, North Carolina for the table read on May 19, 1998. The regular puppets were used for the normal Sesame Street characters, and puppets for assorted Grouches (including Grizzy) were designed and built by Mark Zezsotek, who also built the puppets for Bug and the Pesties. Sonia Manzano reprised her role as Maria, and Roscoe Orman reprised his role as Gordon. Vanessa Williams was cast as the Queen of Trash and the hairstylist dyed her hair green for the role. Mandy Patinkin was a last-minute replacement for the original actor hired to play Huxley. For the role, the makeup artist designed false eyebrows for Patinkin to wear to make him seem like he had bushier eyebrows than normal.


The film was shot over a 30-day period (starting May 26, 1998) at the EUE/Screen Gems studio in Wilmington along with Muppets from Space.[5] The set was raised so that puppeteers would be able to stand up instead of squatting below street level like usual. Filming wrapped for both movies on June 25, 1998, and visual effects were added during the following month.[citation needed]


The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland
Soundtrack album by Sesame Street
Released 1999
Genre Soundtrack
Label Sony
Sesame Street chronology
Elmo Saves Christmas
(1998)Elmo Saves Christmas1998
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland

This album, released in 1999, is the soundtrack to The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.

This album won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Album for Children in 2000.

Track listing[edit]

1. Welcome to Grouchland - The Grouchland Ensemble
2. Together Forever - Elmo
3. Take the First Step - Stuckweed
4. I See a Kingdom - Vanessa Williams
5. Precious Wings - Tatyana Ali
6. Elmo Tells His Grouchland Story (Spoken Word)
7. The Grouch Song - Elmo / Grizzy / Oscar the Grouch
8. There's a Big Heap of Trash at the End of the Rainbow - The Stenchman
9. I Love Trash - Steven Tyler


The film has a rating of 77% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 43 reviews. The film's consensus states, "This fun and moral tale entertains both first-time Sesame Street watchers and seasoned veterans."[6] On Metacritic, which uses an average of critics' reviews, the film holds a 59/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[7]

Box office[edit]

The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland was the only family film playing in most theaters at the time of its release. Sony had planned a scaled-back release[citation needed], making it difficult to make its money back. The film opened at #8, with a weekend gross of $3,255,033 from 1,210 theaters, averaging $2,690 per venue. In total, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland earned back less than half its $26 million budget, grossing $11,683,047 during its two-and-a-half-month theatrical run.[2] It is currently the lowest-grossing Muppet film to date.[citation needed]

Home media[edit]

The movie was released on VHS and DVD on December 21, 1999.

Book series[edit]

The film inspired a trilogy of children's books, published in 1999: Happy Grouchy Day, The Grouchiest Lovey and Unwelcome to Grouchland. The book series was written by Suzanne Weyn and illustrated by Tom Brannon.


  1. ^ In many scenes throughout the movie, Big Bird is puppeteered by Matt Vogel to a vocal track with Caroll Spinney while Spinney performs Oscar (who is featured more prominenly).[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Detail view of Movies Page". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (11 March 2014). "How Kermit and the Muppets Got Their Mojo Back". Variety. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Matt Vogel's Puppeteer Resume".
  5. ^ "Official website (archived)".
  6. ^ The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland at Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland at Metacritic

External links[edit]