The perennially popular little red monster from Sesame Street is at it again. Warner Bros. has brought Elmo, arguably Sesame's most iconic character (yes, even more so than the giant yellow bird), back to DVD on the recent release Elmo the Musical. And let me just warn parents of young children who may be tempted to purchase this video for their children: yes, they will probably learn something by watching, or at the very least be entertained for an hour--but it may very well be at the expense of your sanity.
Calling this Elmo the Musical is a little misleading, because it is not one grand musical film featuring Elmo doing some kind of postmodern cartoonish Gene Kelly shtick, but rather a series of five eleven-minute episodes filled with songs, dancing, colorful characters, and some light math problems. Yes, that's right--Elmo does math, and he wants your kids to do it, too. The learning elements in each episode range from simple addition to identifying different shapes (for instance, in one episode, Elmo and friends search for the famed "Bermuda Octagon"). Each episode has a different unifying theme: by turns, Elmo is a circus performer, an athlete, a prince, a sea captain, and President.
President Elmo. Our long national nightmare is over.
But I digress. Elmo, the self-proclaimed "monster with a dream," uses these different scenarios not only to steathily try to teach your children basic math skills, but also to impart lessons typical of the Sesame Workshop's programming. Through each of his adventures--and many, many, many repetitive songs--Elmo learns about things such as sportsmanship and the importance of helping others while encouraging children to use their imaginations. And therein lies the value of a DVD such as this one, for as grating as Elmo can be to the average adult, there is no doubting Sesame Workshop's unparalleled ability to entice kids to explore their own creativity in a multitude of ways.
In addition to Elmo's wide-ranging adventures, the disc also features several bonus features. There's an entire section devoted to tips for parents, consisting of a series of activities (sing-a-longs, shape-finding games, etc.) and discussion questions designed to promote fun, educational interactions between parent and child. There is also a DVD-ROM with downloadable PDF coloring pages. Additionally, the disc includes "Let's Make Music," a collection of vignettes from Sesame Street featuring the group STOMP that was originally released to DVD in 2000.
Elmo the Musical is available on DVD now and retails for $9.99. Recommended for young children, ages three to seven. Not recommended for adult consumption.