Some stories get old over time or simply lose people’s interest after several remakes. The one story that seems to stand up to the test of time is Dr. Seuss’ wildly popular book-turned-TV special-turned-film, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Eighteen years after the release of Jim Carrey’s live-action adaptation, Illumination has put their own spin on the Christmas classic and reverted it back to its original animated form. Even though the basic story is the same, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch manages to add an emotional element to the new content, making this version just as sweet as the others.
The best aspect about The Grinch is the eye-popping, colorful landscape that the film takes place in. The computer-generated animation is very appealing to the eye and creates a fun environment right from the start. Whoville has never looked this good on any screen. The story keeps its cartoony vibe, which is perfect for children and nostalgic for the adults. The new looks for the characters are fine and don’t make much of a difference.
The little plot changes are what keeps The Grinch entertaining for young and old viewers. The addition of a backstory for Cindy-Lou Who’s mother, aptly named Mrs. Who, adds a nice touch of development to the storyline. New characters like Fred the reindeer and Cindy-Lou’s friend Groopert add bits of comedy and help keep a light tone throughout. My favorite change is the updated reason for the Grinch’s bad vibes with the citizens of Whoville: the Grinch continually asks his neighbors to leave him alone, but they still continue to bug and stalk him at their convenience. At least it finally makes sense as to why he wants to destroy their happiness.
There’s also a different tone to this Grinch, partly due to the eclectic voice cast. Benedict Cumberbatch puts his own spin on the titular green grouch that makes him sound more whiny than evil. It was a good idea to keep the narrator role, voiced by Pharrell Williams, and use some of the original text on top of the dialogue. The always-plucky tones of Rashida Jones (Mrs. Who), Kenan Thompson (Mr. Bricklebaum), and Angela Lansbury (Mayor McGerkle) also help keep a more whimsical vibe.
At its core, The Grinch is still a heart-warming tale that will brighten anyone’s day. The comedy in this version definitely helps it stand out from the others. Max, the Grinch’s dog, steals the spotlight as always too. Illumination has proven over the past ten years that they can make fun animated tales for families, and the company continues that streak with The Grinch. At the very least, The Grinch is 86 minutes of silly, mindless entertainment that kicks off the holiday season in style.
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