The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland

  • Review Date: January 12, 2004
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 73 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sesame Street fans will love this sweet movie.
  • Review Date: January 12, 2004
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 73 minutes





What parents need to know

Educational value

Most of the movie's lessons have to do with communication, determination, and friendship. When Elmo loses his blankie, he needs to use a set of skills that will help him get it back. He has to communicate his needs, he has to co-operate with grouches, and he has to follow directions to help him find Huxley's castle.

Positive messages

As per usual, the friends on Sesame Street come in many colors, shapes, and sizes, and everyone pretty much gets along (except for the grouchy characters in Grouchland, of course).

Positive role models

Elmo's friends -- both adults and younger folks, human and monster -- come to Elmo's aid when he's in a bind. Everyone works together to help solve problems. The Grouchland characters throw manners out the window, but they're clearly in the wrong.

Violence & scariness

Some perilous moments -- like a rollerblading scene and falling down a tunnel -- that might put little ones on the edge of their seat. The villain, Huxley, is a selfish meanie who sends Elmo into a dark tunnel after stealing his blankie. But Elmo asks his friends in the audience for help and escapes the dark place.

Sexy stuff

The Queen of Trash is a curvaceous, sensual woman. Huxley is shown in his boxer shorts and an undershirt.


Grouches aren't models of friendly language. Part of their "charm" is saying "scram," "yuck," and "go away!"


Elmo has lots of toys in his room, including some Fisher Price classics and a poster of Tiger Woods. Huxley sings a song about things that he wants to take from other people in which he names brands like Atari and Ferrari. There's a reference to Starbucks, though it's called "Tarbucks."

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that everything is topsy turvy when Elmo ventures into Grouchland, so a certain understanding of what is (and isn't) acceptable behavior is needed to get the humor fully -- hearing the pleasure with which the Grouches tell each other to get lost is funny only if you know it's not really OK. There are a few mildly perilous/tense moments that could upset sensitive or very young viewers, and some kids may be concerned that Elmo doesn't seem to have any parents and could need some reassurance.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In this Sesame Street adventure, Elmo's favorite friend, his beloved blanket, is tossed into Oscar's trash can. Elmo (Kevin Clash) goes in after it, only to find himself transported to Grouchland, where grouches cut off the flowers and keep the stems and you get put in jail if you ask for help. The Sesame Street characters all go to Grouchland to try to find Elmo, but by then Elmo is on his way to get his blanket back from mean Mr. Huxley (Mandy Patinkin), who takes everything he sees and has a big machine to stamp "MINE" on everything he takes.

Is it any good?


Sesame Street fans will love THE ADVENTURES OF ELMO IN GROUCHLAND, which has all of the Sesame Street trademarks -- subtle puns for parents, delightful silliness for kids, and gentle lessons about cooperation, loyalty, sharing, and believing in yourself for everyone, all told with their characteristic warmth, good humor, and kindness. Even Oscar the Grouch (Carroll Spinney) admits that Elmo is his friend. And during the few moments of mild tension, Ernie and Bert appear to reassure kids that everything is all right.

Patinkin and Vanessa Williams (as the Trash Queen) provide some star power, but the real stars are the Muppets and the audience -- who are invited to participate in the movie at crucial moments.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about their own "special" toys and other transition objects. Why is it sometimes hard to share?

  • What do the characters learn during the movie? What makes a Grouch a Grouch? (It can be a lot of fun to spend a couple of hours pretending the whole family is in Grouchland!)

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 1, 1999
DVD release date:December 21, 1999
Cast:Kevin Clash, Mandy Patinkin, Vanessa Williams
Director:Gary Halvorson
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Puppets
Run time:73 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written bymonkeymo June 18, 2011

Agh....too scary for my 3.5 year old.

I wish I had read the parents recommendations on this one rather than just commonsensemedia's review as my 3.5 year old was really upset by this movie. She was heartbroken when Elmo lost his blanket and started crying and then when Huxley appeared it all went downhill from there. He is quite a scary character for a young child and there are a fair number of scenes of peril and she was asking me to turn it off about half way through. We compromised and fast forwarded through the bits she didn't like - I really wanted her to get to the end of the movie though and see that Elmo did get his blanket back so that she wasn't worried about that afterwards. I also wanted her to see that the villian did get his comeuppance in the end although that wasn't really dealt with so well I didn't think. We did have a good chat afterwards about sharing and not sharing and not taking things from others without asking but all in all I wish I hadn't chosen it as it seemed to upset her far too much. More for older kids but then they might find the storyline a bit lame.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Parent of a 2, 5, and 7 year old Written byJim T. October 17, 2009

Emotionally Terrifying to Some Kids

I can't believe that I should have screened an Elmo movie for 5 and 7 year old girls, but I really wish I had. Good grief!! Both were terrified at the thought of a blanket/lovey being both damaged and then stolen. Sensitive kids are going to be very upset by this seemingly harmless movie. Other than that huge issue, it was well made.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written byIsaacboy September 16, 2013


This movie possessed ALL of the kids in my daycare after they watched the movie. TRUST ME on this one. You don't want your kids to watch this. I remember one kid named Tommy who saw a hidden ghost in the movie. Then he watched the movie alone in his room for the second time. After that, nobody ever saw him again...
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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