Dan's Review: "The Grinch" enjoyable, but lacks Seuss' style
Nov 09, 2018 11:46AM
● By Dan Metcalf
Benedict Cumberbatch in Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch - © 2018 Universal Pictures.
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (Universal Pictures)
Rated PG for brief rude humor.
Starring (voices of) Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury, Pharrell Williams, Ramone Hamilton, Sam Lavagnino, Scarlett Estevez, Tristan O'Hare.
Written by Michael LeSieur and Tommy Swerdlow, based on "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" by Dr. Seuss.
Directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney.
Classic tales are always ripe for reinterpretation. Dr. Seuss’ 1957 children’s story of the curmudgeon hermit of Whoville has already been presented twice. The first was Chuck Jones’ 1966 animated TV special and the second was Ron Howard’s 2000 live-action feature starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch. Some may say it’s “too soon” for another one, but the folks at Illumination Animation (makers of the Despicable Me/Minions features) saw fit to churn out another angle on the same story with Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, in theaters this weekend.
Benedict Cumberbatch voices the Grinch, a green furry “who” who lives in seclusion inside a cave on Mount Crumpit, overlooking the peaceful town of Whoville. The Grinch hates Christmas and the Whos and plans to disrupt the holiday by any means necessary. His plot involves dressing up as Santa, sneaking into town and stealing all the presents, trees, trappings, and holiday food. Meanwhile, a little who named Cindy Lou (Cameron Seely) is trying desperately to get a letter to Santa, not to ask for toys, but to use her Christmas wish get some relief for her overworked single mom Donna Lou (Rashida Jones). Along the way, the Grinch tries to recruit some reindeer, but only gets a really fat one named Fred to join up (who leaves to join his reindeer family on Christmas Eve). The Grinch is relegated to using his trusty dog Max to pull the sleigh stolen from his nearest neighbor Bricklebaum (Kenan Thompson), a more-than-jolly fella. The Whoville heist goes off as planned until the Grinch reaches Cindy Lou’s house, where he learns of her Christmas wish. He heads off to the top of Mount Crumpit to dump the booty when he hears the townspeople singing Christmas songs. He has a change of heart, as we all know.
The Grinch is a fine holiday film with dazzling animation, a fair amount of humor and a sweet resolution with the Holiday Spirit, as written by Seuss. The problem with the new Grinch tale is the absence of Seuss. This Grinch has deep emotional issues, spanning back to his lonely childhood in an orphanage. The rough edges and nastiness seen in other interpretations of the main character are smoothed over to a kinder, gentler Grinch, a guy who acquiesces to sympathetic requests from everyone he encounters, from the lovable fat reindeer to his dog and Cindy Lou. I mean, if you’re already shedding a few tears for the guy in the first 30 minutes of the movie, it kind of spoils the big moment, making his turnaround all the less impressive.
Despite the less-than “Seussy” grit and apparent lack of weirdness, The Grinch is a pleasant family film and a nice reminder of what really matters around the holiday. It’s always good to have such reminders when the stress of too many parties, gifts, and Yuletide fun begins to wear down on us.
Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Trailer