“The Grinch” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, and Angela Lansbury. Released on November 9, 2018, the film is about a grumpy creature who plots to steal Christmas from the citizens of Whoville.
The film is directed by Scott Mosier, known for his work with Kevin Smith, and Yarrow Cheney, who served as a production designer for films like “Despicable Me” and “The Lorax”. It is based on the 1957 story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, by Dr. Seuss. It’s never too early to get ready for the holiday season…unless you’re someone who despises it. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is one of the most beloved books that Dr. Seuss has ever published as it inspired people of all ages with its clever tale about the true meaning of Christmas. The story is so popular that it spawned a 1966 animated special and the 2000 live-action feature-length film to delight the next few generations of kids and adults. This year, Illumination is taking a crack at adapting the holiday classic into a feature-length film, as if the last two adaptations weren’t enough. The film marks the second Seuss adaptation from Illumination, following the 2012 adaptation of “The Lorax”. I already enjoyed the other adaptations of “The Grinch”, so this is something that I couldn’t pass up, especially since it’s from the animation company that has a pretty impressive track record. Is it able to do the source material justice? Let’s find out.
Like the 2000 live-action adaptation, the story in “The Grinch” follows the same narrative as the book and holiday special, but offers a few extra elements to fit its feature-length criteria, such as the title character’s backstory. So, long story short, a grouchy green creature (voiced by Cumberbatch) hates Christmas and hatches a plan to steal it. There’s not much else I can say about the story since it’s similar to the other adaptations besides the fact that this version is narrated by singer/songwriter Pharrell Williams. So, how does this latest adaptation compare to the last two adaptations in terms of execution? Well, let me explain my answer like this: If you like the other films from Illumination and enjoyed the holiday special, chances are you’ll get a kick out of this one. It can be very predictable for some people who have heard this story countless times and the messages lacked the emotion that made the source material so jolly and bright, but it had enough goodwill to make it worth everybody’s time. One of the things that made this version a bit different than the others is the Grinch himself. He’s still the holiday-hating grouch that we know and love, but he’s also a lonely and nervous creature who lives in a mountain with his dog, Max. This is a nice change of pace for those who didn’t like the mean-spirited Grinch in the live-action version, and Benedict Cumberbatch did a suitable job at portraying the character as his own. He’s no Jim Carrey, but he fits the bill quite nicely. There’s also a side-plot that involves Cindy Lou Who (voiced by newcomer Cameron Seely) and her attempt to ask Santa to help her widowed mother. It’s a cute side-plot that fits well with the main story. Also, am I the only one who thinks this film’s Cindy Lou Who is absolutely adorable? She’s just so cute and so full of life. Out of all the Cindy Lou Who’s I’ve seen so far, this one is probably my favorite, hands down. Another element that was added into the film was the Grinch’s backstory, which was also in the Jim Carrey version, but in this version, it’s more light-hearted. A bit sad, but light-hearted. I might get a lot of backlash for saying this, but I think I like the Grinch’s backstory in the live-action version a bit more, in my opinion. They both serve a purpose in delivering their messages, but I felt the backstory in this version was a bit underwhelming compared to the backstory in the live-action version, which offered an understandable amount of empathy in the title character. The animation once again provided a dream-like world filled with color and imagination. From the gorgeous town of Whoville to the Grinch’s lair, the animation style is a bright and joyous gift that the kids will go nuts for on Christmas morning. The film also had its usual blend of charm and humor that most Illumination films are known for. There were actually quite a lot of humorous moments that made me laugh, including the reindeer Fred. Even though most of them were from the trailers, they still managed to make me chuckle with glee. Similar to the last two adaptations of “The Grinch”, the filmmakers never lost sight of the charming scenes that’ll make everyone’s heart grow despite their corny deliverance of the film’s messages.
Overall, “The Grinch” may feel like an unnecessary remake, but it’s a heartwarming and fun treat that families will enjoy throughout the holiday season. Despite its familiar plot, its corny, but relatable, messages, and the title character’s weak backstory, the film is a fitting adaptation for young kids thanks to Cumberbatch’s vocal performance, its colorful animation, and its charming humor. From what I’ve seen so far, I think the Dr. Seuss films are more suited for the world of animation rather than the world of live-action. Here’s hoping that an animated “Cat in the Hat” movie can erase the sins that the 2003 live-action version has committed. The film is worth watching if you’re a fan of the source material and a respectable follower of Illumination Entertainment.