When it comes to Christmas there have been many pop culture characters to define the season with the likes of Scrooge and Santa himself playing a major role in various mediums. Among these prominent characters is one who is green and hates Christmas; in fact he hates Christmas a lot. This character is none other than the Grinch from Dr/Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The character was made famous from the 1966 animated television special by Chuck Jones, but The Grinch has already been adapted for the big screen in the 2000 live action film by Ron Howard. Now the story returns to theaters with a new animated adaptation directed by Scott Moiser and Yarrow Cheney and produced by none other than Illumination Entertainment. I figured it was only a matter of time before The Grinch would return to silver screen and that was all the more reason to give this movie chance. After enduring this new animated feature I have to say that while it may not have the charm of the 1966 television special, there was a sense of festivity behind The Grinch.
Just like every take on this story the plot centers on the Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) wanting to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. Conceptually speaking the plot definitely follows the original Dr.Seuss tale. Where this movie differs though is that this story centers on the Grinch’s plan and the process of him implementing it. This direction was a nice touch as it was able to give both the movie, and even the original story, a sense of substance. Even the subplot of Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely) was not a bad addition to the story as it played a necessary role to the overall plot. However when it came to the story’s payoff it had its share of hits as well as misses. The conclusion had its moments, as well as some surprises, but there did not seem to much to it which gave the plot an underwhelming execution. Still the plot had the right idea as well as featuring a sense of entertainment, and that was just enough to make this Christmas story tolerable.
When it came to the cast this was one that relied on its title character, which was not necessarily a bad thing. Benedict Cumberbatch’s take on The Grinch was appropriate as his performance of the iconic meiser gave the character a good balance of humor and complexity to his villainy. Along with the Grinch was none other than his k9 companion Max. Max was a great side character for the Grinch as his expressions gave him plenty of character and his chemistry with his master gave the duo a classic back and forth aspect. The supporting characters seemed fitting with the likes of Cindy Lou, Donna Lou Who (Rashida Jones) and even Bricklebaum (Keenan Thompson) were fairly decent in their roles. One issue I had with the cast was with Pharrell Williams as the Narrator. While Williams had his moments, his narration did very little for the film as his dictations were lacking a sense of character. This movie featured a fairly small cast but that did work to the movie’s favor thanks to film featuring a strong title character, decent supporting players and a fat reindeer named Fred.
When it came to animation it seemed that Illumination was a fitting studio to bring Dr.Seuss’s story to life. The animation was colorful which worked for both the movie’s festive season as well as the look of the original story. The animation was also effective in giving the characters vibrant expressions which only added to the actors’ performances. Along with the stylish animation was the movie’s good sense of humor. The comedy was very much slapstick in nature but that did work for the movie’s tone and made the film that more entertaining. The music, on the other hand, was nothing to impressive. The score by Danny Elfman was festive enough but it did not leave much to the imagination. Plus the new version of “You’re A Mean One Mr.Grinch by Tyler the Creator did not work for me as it was not fitting for either the character or the movie itself.
As an adaptation The Grinch is a decent one. The animated film is entertaining and it has its moments, but the film’s lacking execution does prevent it from being truly memorable. Still the film’s minimal presentation did not hinder its better attributes such as its solid lead character or its good sense of humor. The Grinch may not have the impression of past adaptations but this new animated feature does just enough to not only live up its name but also make for an entertaining Christmas film.