Comparing Follow That Bird and Elmo in Grouchland
Michael Wermuth, Jr. – Sesame Street has been on the air for nearly 43 years, and in its long history the show has spawned many specials, home videos, live stage shows, books, and albums, but only two feature length films. The first one was Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird, which is undoubtedly the better of the two, and the other was The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, while not as good is still enjoyable. And as different as these movies may be, there are also a number of similarities that I’ve always noticed. Yeah, there are the obvious similarities, like the fact that they are both Sesame Street movies, but the similarities don’t end there, and I’m going to note some of the similarities I’ve always noticed. Enjoy the comparisons!
For one thing, both movies involve the cast looking for the main character. In Follow That Bird, it’s Big Bird, who, after being sent to Illinois to live with a bird family and not being happy, decides to walk back to Sesame Street. This makes national news so the cast goes in search of him to make sure he gets back safe (and to make sure Miss Finch doesn’t find him first). In Elmo in Grouchland it’s the opposite, Elmo goes into Oscar’s can in search of his blanket, the two end up in Grouchland, and Elmo’s blanket gets taken by the villain, Huxley, so Elmo once again goes in search for the blanket. Oscar sees him go into Grouchland right before he does, informs the others, and they go to search for Elmo.
Gordon and Maria are the only humans to go on both trips. In Follow That Bird, Olivia and Linda also search for Big Bird, but neither of them appear in Elmo in Grouchland, while Maria and Gordon are the only humans to go on the Grouchland trip. Luis is hardly in either of the movies. In Follow That Bird, he gets two or three lines total, though he is there for many of the street scenes. In Elmo in Grouchland, he’s there, but he doesn’t get any lines at all. In Follow That Bird Bob and to a lesser extent Susan get plenty of lines while staying on the street, and in Elmo in Grouchland most of the adults who stay on Sesame Street get at least one line each.
Neither movie shows the characters who own Hooper’s Store. David was a major character on the show when Follow That Bird came out, but was nowhere to be seen in the film. In the case of Elmo in Grouchland, Hooper’s Store is just there in the background. There are no scenes taking place inside the building. I believe filming for the movie began before season 30, when Alan joined the cast, and was released after, so perhaps it would have been confusing for Mr. Handford to be seen in the movie after Alan owned the store for a year (the “Around the Corner” area makes an appearance in the film).
Both movies use bigger and more realistic-looking street sets. Both are quite impressive, though the street shown in Follow That Bird is more so. There, we see everything on Sesame Street, including all angles not normally shown on the show. In Elmo in Grouchland, we do see a little of what’s across the street from 123 Sesame Street, mainly a laundromat and an outdoor restaurant, while some parts of the street are still unseen (like the area one would see if looking from across Hooper’s Store and the areas between the laundromat and Fix-It Shop).
In both movies, Big Bird gets locked in a cage. In the first, it’s because he’s tricked by the Sleaze Bros., while in the latter, it’s because he and the other characters go to jail due to asking for help. In both films, it is nighttime when the supporting cast finds out where the character they’re looking for is, and it takes them until morning to get to their destination. I’ve also noticed a similarity between everybody on Sesame Street getting excited about Big Bird returning, and the residents of Grouchland getting excited when they learn Oscar has returned (well, as excited as a Grouch can get). Both instances include characters sticking their heads out windows upon hearing the news that an old friend has come back.
Well, that’s all the comparisons I could think of for now. Maybe you’ve noticed similarities that I haven’t.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org