Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
review by Bobby Blakey
You would be hard pressed to find a single person around that hasn’t heard of Dr. Seuss. Everyone either read the books, saw the animated specials or the movies. Outside of the live action features they have already offered up two computer animated features including Horton Hears A Who and The Lorax. Now Universal Pictures is bringing easily the most popular of all the Seuss stories The Grinch back to the big screen in an all-new animated feature starring Benedict Cumberpatch, Pharrell Williams, Keenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury, and Rashida Jones with directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier at the helm, but does it capture the grumpy magic of the story or will it need to be another holiday that should have been stopped?
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch follows the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. When the Whos declare they are going to make Christmas three times bigger this year, the Grinch realizes there is only one way for him to gain some peace and quiet: he must steal Christmas. To do so, he decides to pose as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, even going so far as to trap a lackadaisical misfit reindeer to pull his sleigh. Meanwhile, down in Whoville, Cindy-Lou Who, a young girl overflowing with holiday cheer, plots with her gang of friends to trap Santa Claus as he makes his Christmas Eve rounds so that she can thank him for help for her overworked single mother. As Christmas approaches,
however, her good-natured scheme threatens to collide with the Grinch's more nefarious one.
I love all things Grinch so when I saw the first trailer I admit I was pretty excited. With the animation direction they could do so many more crazy things to capture the Dr. Seuss world as they had in other films. Right out of the gate the animation is vibrant and beautiful making for a perfect world to tell this story. All the gadgets, characters and silliness is on display very much like Seuss had drawn them in the books. From beginning to end it is a visual treat
for the eyes, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still other issues.
As I was marveling at the beauty of it I was instantly put off by the narration from Pharrell Williams. His relaxed tone just never packed the punch I think it needed like Boris Karloff had done in the original. Of course Karloff is near impossible to replace, but they just needed someone with a deeper voice with more feeling to really capture the essence to the tale. Sure this is just a small portion, but add this to the horrible new version of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” Grinch theme song and I was irritated from the start. Thankfully that doesn’t play much in the film, but it just doesn’t make sense to update it when the original would have played to perfection here.
The story is still intact with not too much over backstory thrown in and instead just longer planning and montages of Grinch and Cindy Lou prepping their plans for the finale. Cumberpatch is good in the role, but for some reason I think The Grinch came off whiny in this version as opposed to just mean. Had they played up the mean nature it would have had the bigger impact of his change of heart at the end.
I know it sounds like I hated more than I loved, but that isn’t totally true. I had a great time with the film, but this is one of those times that you are retelling a classic story that was done to perfection in a 30 minute TV special with an iconic actor in the lead so it’s hard to top that. They did a decent job and this will no doubt be a film the kids enjoy as will some adults, but it’s the little things that left it a bit of a stumble instead of the classic it could have become.
In addition to the film this release includes bonus content including music vidoes, featurettes and new mini-movies featuring Max and the Minions. Join his plan to destroy Christmas with Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch available now on Digital, 4K Ultra, Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Home Entertainment.