The Grinch takes a classic short story, adds some pointless plot digressions and then seems to completely miss the point by the end.
Directors: Yarrow Cheney, Scott Mosier
Summary: A grumpy Grinch plots to ruin Christmas for the village of Whoville.
Everyone knows the story of The Grinch. It’s a simple and classic tale about a grouchy creature discovering the true meaning of the holidays. A story by Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel written in verse and published in 1957, it was made into an animated TV special in 1966 featuring Boris Karloff as the voice of the Grinch, and seen by many of us countless times in the decades since. There was no reason to take this simple story and stretch it out to reach the minimum length for a feature film. In this case it meant adding a ton of padding in the form of nonsense and plot details that go nowhere.
The biggest one is that the Grinch, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, now has a tragic backstory. Apparently being grouchy and not liking Christmas because he doesn’t like joy is not enough anymore. The verse of the original story puts it simply:
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
Now we need to know that he was a sad orphan that didn’t get a Christmas one year — or maybe never — it’s a little unclear. But the Grinch doesn’t need a reason to hate Christmas, because he is the Grinch. The Grinch is so intrinsic to hating Christmas that it’s basically an adjective.
Even so, the Grinch being a Grinch is undermined at every turn in this film. He’s bad, but he has a pet dog that he treats very nicely. The dog is there for comedy. He needs a reindeer at one point and is also nice to it. So the Grinch’s tiny heart apparently has room for a dog and most animals but not for humans. This too is an abrupt change from the original story. The Grinch is supposed to hate everything; that’s what makes him the Grinch.
Cindy Lou Hoo, voiced by Cameron Seely, has to have her own plot point now as well. She has an overlooked single mom and the only thing she wants for Christmas is that her mom is happy again. They made Cindy Lou more selfless and also spend a lot of time watching her and her friends plan how they are going to catch Santa Clause.
This subplot makes the movie drag on and on, and we’re nearly an hour into this production when the Grinch finally does steal Christmas. There is the ticking clock down to Christmas Eve and it feels very much like being a kid waiting for Christmas. It feels like time slows down and everything takes forever. The jokes aren’t funny enough to keep anyone engaged, and judging from the way kids were acting in the screening that I attended, they could not have cared less.
It seems like Illumination was planning on making this a 3D movie at some point but decided not to in the end. There are times when the movie seems like it was half converted and gets extremely blurry and out of focus. The animation doesn’t bring anything new to the character designs which somehow look exactly like what you expect a Grinch movie from Illumination to look like.
The Grinch is bad enough to turn anyone into, well, a Grinch for the upcoming holiday season. The animated movie is a classic that is absolutely be worth re-watching in the comfort of your own home. As for this one? It’s not worth the ticket price.
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