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Positive and Negative: Elmo In Grouchland

Discussion in 'Classic Sesame Street' started by Powerstars, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. Powerstars

    Powerstars Active Member

    Hello, welcome to a new thread series that I dub "Positive and Negative," where we discuss the best and worst of a Muppet production. Today, I have a real stinker (no pun intended), Elmo In Grouchland. Oh boy, I do not like this film. Shall we get into positives and negatives of the film the killed the Street's short-lived theatrical career? (NOTE: I haven't seen this in a while, so my memory is fairly hazy.

    PROS:
    -The Grouchland set is cool
    -Some of the songs are okay, maybe even catchy
    -Ernie and Bert's occasional pauses
    -The sequence where Elmo loses his blanket is chaotic
    CONS:
    -Elmo's annoying whimpering about his blanket
    -Huxley's character
    -Not enough of anyone aside from Elmo
    -Zoe's begging for the blanket
    -Downright terrifying full body shots (I was afraid of them, yet I didn't even know why!)
    -Most songs downright suck
    -Generally crappy movie, even for 3 year olds (Not much appeals to older audiences)

    That's what I think, what do YOU think?
    Muppet fan 123 likes this.
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I disagree, I liked EIG; granted, it's not quite the masterpiece that FTB was, but here's my opinions on it:

    One thing, I'm guessing they didn't quite have the budget for this movie as they did FTB, as the Sesame Street in EIG was on a soundstage, as opposed to the Sesame Street in FTB, which was built and shot on-location in Canada... then again, most of FTB takes place outdoors, on-location, in the real world (something Jim loved, because he felt the characters look more believable and realistic in natural light in the real world as opposed to stage settings), though there's not really a way that a real-world setting could work for Grouchland, because it IS a fanciful setting.

    I think another thing too that makes FTB the better SST movie is that it doesn't rely too much on breaking the fourth wall and medium awareness, which I don't recall something happening too often, almost all Muppet movies rely on breaking the fourth wall, addressing the audience, acknowledging they're in the movie, etc to the point it's become gimmicks... FTB never really utilized audience involvement/interaction (unlike the show), EIG on the other hand, did so to the point that they actually used kids responding to Elmo throughout the movie... was that really necessary in a theater full of kids? That's like using a laugh track in a movie, it isn't necessary.

    The one thing I do really like about EIG is the songs... I'm sorry, but I did enjoy the songs: "Together Forever", "Take the First Step", "I See a Kingdom", etc, they're all good to me, plus I enjoy John Debney's music scoring, his are usually good scores that fit the movies really well, and IMO, the music score can make or break a movie (which is one of my major complaints with the Ice Age sequels using John Powell's scoring as opposed to David Newman in the original).

    Another thing I have to disagree with you on is Zoe: she wasn't begging for Elmo's blanket, she happened to notice, and grabbed it for comfort since she was saddened by not being able to go to the zoo, Elmo got selfish and demanded the blanket back, but Zoe wasn't ready to let go of it just yet, a tug-of-war ensued, and the blanket ripped.

    Overall, the movie does seem to speak down to kids just a bit... I mean heck, even I (though considering I was 10/11 when the movie came out) thought, "Why doesn't Huxley just pull the basket off of him instead of acting like he's tied up?" As for Huxley, he may not have been an incredibly great villain, but I give Mandy Patinkin thumbs up for his performance, as he's said he was happy to do this movie because he enjoys working with the Muppets, and it shows in his performance (FAR cry from the time he appeared on the show in the 80s as a police officer helping Big Bird, where his performance was so stiff and wooden, it was like Vince Vaughn, Bob Crane, Steve Carrell, and the old Michael Ian Black rolled into one). On a tradition four-star movie rating, I'd give this one at least two stars.
  3. Powerstars

    Powerstars Active Member

    Just goes to show how different people's opinions can be.
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I wonder what's cheaper, shooting on location or in a soundstage. I would think an indoor set would cost more because you'd have to pay for studio space and need to build sets and such (though they would have had to build the outdoor Sesame Street set in Follow That Bird), but then again, it seems like it'd be easier to shoot indoors than outdoors.

    I agree on all of those, though I do wish Ernie and Bert would have been put into the story somehow, at the very least having a conversation with some of the other characters, as opposed to being "seperate" from the film.

    When I first saw the announcement for this movie, I figured Elmo would go to Grouchland by going into Oscar's trash can (which is what happened). Then I started thinking about another scenario I had hoped for: That Elmo would accidently get trapped into a garbage truck somehow and the truck would deliver the trash to grouchland, and that everyone would have to travel by car to save Elmo. And I was hoping that when they left there'd be a scene similar to the scene in Follow That Bird where everybody's about to leave Sesame Street and there's a big crowd of Muppets and extras. And I hoped they'd have Kermit make an appearance (well, technically he was in the Jim Henson Pictures logo), either interviewing the characters on the street before they left or doing a live report from Grouchland.

    I don't really like that Elmo had to go after a blanket, since it hadn't been seen before and hasn't been seen since (outside of Elmo in Grouchland merchandise and tie-ins). But at least they don't treat it like something that's always been there. Elmo introduces his blanket to us at the beginning, as if it's new, and Zoe obviously hadn't seen Elmo's blanket before. Perhaps it's like that new toy/item somebody would get and like so much they play with it all the time and take it everywhere and then within a few weeks don't care about it as much.
  5. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I would think that either way you go, it would be a double-edged sword...

    With filming on a sound stage in a studio, it would probably be easier because of the in-house production, the editing suite, and everything, but it probably would be more expensive because of the sets that would have to be constructed, and elements having to be shifted depending on camera angles and everything.

    With filming on-location, it probably would be less expensive, but it would be a painstaking process, because you have to pack up and transport the cast, crew, equipment, etc, from location to location, not to mention having to obtain permission from various different parties to film at these locations: city film commissions, state film commissions, etc.
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    There is only one big problem I have with the movie... Elmo's World-esque asides to the audience. Not like the ones Ernie and Bert do throughout the movie, and not like any of the asides any other Muppet has done in every Muppet Movie since the first. The "I need your help" pseudo-interactive garbage that takes you out of the moment. That's fine for television, but a theatrical film?!

    I like how Elmo is explored as a character and not a mascot/host that doesn't emote or do anything interesting. I especially like how they explore his friendship with Zoe just a little bit. But it really needed more Sesame Street characters and more exterior shots in the real world. The sound stage studios made the film look plastic, unlike the classic FTB. If only it had the same cinematography.
  7. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I just figured out how they COULD have made Grouchland a live set, though I doubt the cast and crew would have wanted to do it: Just film in a junkyard or city dump and say that's Grocuhland!
    Lola p likes this.
  8. Powerstars

    Powerstars Active Member

    Yeah, it would probably smell.
  9. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Actually, that's one of the other major problems I had with the movie. Not enough time was taken in Grouchland. I think the biggest mistake in the script was having the other characters stuck in jail for most of the movie. It would have been more fun to have them interact with Grouches. Quite a lost opportunity if you think about it.
  10. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    We don't really see them asking for help, but I take it that only Big Bird and/or Zoe asked for help. So why should the whole gang go to jail for it? They did seem to split up (something that should have been done in Muppets from Space), so maybe the others asked for help seperately and they all happened to go to jail at the same time. But then shouldn't Oscar have known better than to have asked for help? Unless Grouchland made it against the law after Oscar moved to Sesame Street, but it seems odd Oscar would ask for help.

    And earlier on Elmo asks for help in Grouchland and yet he didn't get arrested.
  11. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I was thinking more about how uncomfortable it would be for the performers to get inside/underneath piles of garbage. What if they accidently got stuck with needles?
    Powerstars likes this.
  12. Powerstars

    Powerstars Active Member

    Ooh, I can see that.
  13. Lola p

    Lola p Well-Known Member


    Well, They DID say it smelled in grouch land...
  14. Powerstars

    Powerstars Active Member

    Oh, more motivation, of course!
  15. Dominicboo1

    Dominicboo1 Well-Known Member

    Pros-I do like Elmo. (Please don't call the asylum) The songs especially I see a Kingdom are grat! I love the character of Bug. Grouchland as a whole is pretty funny. (You have the right to scream your head off). Bert and Ernie's comments.
    Cons-Huxley is a little too whiny, but his song is a pro! Even as a four-year-old I hated watching Big Bird get stuck! I never found it funny! Just painful! The audience participation, but it wasn't quite as bad as the "help" we never give in Thomas and The Magic Railroad. See Nostalgia Critic's review and you'll know what I'm talking about.
  16. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    "You did that! You!"
    Powerstars and Dominicboo1 like this.
  17. SSLFan

    SSLFan Well-Known Member

    Really? I found that part quite halarious myself. :wisdom:

    I have to admit, I loved EIG myself. It was my generation's "FTB", sorta speak. All that songs were great (loved Vanessa Williams' song and Huxley's song was BOSS). The only downside, as others have mentioned, was that SS should have been filmed on an exterior stage just as FTB as opposed to indoors. And while I agree that it was lacking the screen presence of the characters that went into grouchland to look for Elmo, I must admit Elmo himself made up for it since he was able to emote throughout the whole film, as opposed to just staying one-note like in EW. I honestly felt sorry for the little red guy at one point.
  18. Dominicboo1

    Dominicboo1 Well-Known Member

    Yes I agree all songs were good! The main thing I liked about Huxley was his song.
    (Edward saves Bella) You did that you! For shame.
    heralde likes this.
  19. Powerstars

    Powerstars Active Member

    You did that! You!......for shame!
    Dominicboo1 and heralde like this.
  20. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Audience participation, Rocky Horror Picture Show aside, doesn't work in film. Singing along to onscreen lyrics is fun (I guess), but having Elmo ask for help those times he did in the film... really takes you out of the moment. There's nothing wrong with Kermit or someone pointing out we're watching a movie in a self-aware joke... but trying to add in clumsy elements Elmo's World (when EW just started up) ruined the film.

    I hope they avoid it in the next film.


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