The Grinch Review: A familiar rendition of a classic that’s great for both old fans and a new generation.
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas might not only be one of the author’s best stories, but also one of the best Christmas stories of all time. It truly captures the idea of Christmas being about more than just presents and putting differences aside to be kind to one another and this is captured in both the 1966 TV movie and the 2000 live-action adaptation starring Jim Carrey. Frankly, this was why I was a little worried to hear that Illumination was creating a Grinch story of their own as I’ve never really been a fan of their more zany humor and stories that just never really resonate with me.
However, leaving The Grinch I felt that I was (mostly) proved wrong and am happy to say that Illumination has successfully brought the mean old Grinch back to the big screen. It feels like you are right in a Dr. Seuss world from the start and zany creatures and creations are brought to life with the film slick and colorful animation. Many will be able to see the film’s efforts to expand what Christmas means to the Whos through wacky inventions and jolly personalities.
The Grinch also leaves little to be disappointed with as it touches on the same story beats as the past works as so not to besmirch the story’s name. However, this is also why the film is kind of nothing special. While it’s good to put out the classic story for a new generation that might not know about it, as someone who has seen both previous films multiple times, I felt that sticking to the basics was kind of boring. To its credit, the film does try to add in new themes and characters, but these are never fully developed and most who see it probably won’t remember it when they think about the Grinch.
Illumination also feels like they forgot they were making a movie on a Dr. Seuss book since they have the wackiness and creative moments, which Seuss was known for, only at face-value. It felt disappointing to having a film that lacks the crazy antics of the Whos that really build-up the world of Whoville. The Whos, themselves, also feel oddly secondary in this rendition and it constantly makes the story feel like a lesser version. There’s very little interaction between the Grinch and the Whos, except for a select few, and this leaves feelings of strong disconnect between the two.
The Grinch, himself, is still a bit of a mean one this time around and Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance truly make the character as charming as an eel. While I did miss the raspier voice and meaner demeanor that the character usually has, Cumberbatch still creates plenty of entertaining moments that make it feel fresh. Cumberbatch even brings some humor that will undoubtedly resonate with both children and parents alike.
The music is also kind of a mixed bag for me as there are some creative and more modern takes on music associated with the Grinch, but also some weird choices that just didn’t completely vibe with a Dr. Seuss world. Popular rapper Tyler the Creator makes a pretty great rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” that feels like a perfect way to modernize a classic. However, hearing other popular Christmas songs that many associated with the holiday felt out of place for a Dr. Seuss story.
So, while I don’t feel that Illumination deserves much credit for The Grinch’s strength since it’s mostly just a carbon copy of the cartoon many already love, it’s still a great movie to watch to get in the Christmas spirit. It definitely succeeds in bringing the classic story to new generation while keeping old fans entertained. It’s a solid trip down memory lane that makes the holidays feel that much closer.