In this movie, based on the 1957 book How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Grinch plans to ruin Christmas for the Who’s of Whoville by stealing all of the decorations and gifts in the town.
The following article contains spoilers from this point on.
With this movie, as well as the Live Action How the Grinch Stole Christmas, it was something that would make me think how are they going to take either a 65-page book with illustrations or the half-hour cartoon special and make it into a 90+ minute movie. When the film was announced and made in 2000, they decided to go with a live-action take on the movie. Besides Jim Carrey’s performance as The Grinch, the visuals and makeup, there wasn’t really anything else to say (for now) other than that film was a movie for its time.
This is Illumination’s second Dr. Seuss’ animated movie, the first being The Lorax. While I like Despicable Me and other films Illumination puts out, they seem to target young kids for their films. I think that is fine when dealing with Dr. Seuss material. I felt that the animation and art did match the style of Dr. Seuss illustrations. I felt like I was watching a Dr. Seuss book I just read, with a lot more detail.
We have two different stories that are going on in the movie. The main story of the film is the Grinch planning to steal Christmas and Cindy Lou Who wanting to ask Santa Clause for someone to help her overworked mother out. It’s a standard story for the Grinch I’ll get into in a bit, but the B story with Cindy Lou seemed to foreshadow events most of us that read the story knew what was going to happen anyway. I thought that it would have been fine just to have her meet The Grinch as he was stealing all of their Christmas presents would have been fine. Not an elaborate side story of her and her friends coming up with a trap to capture Santa to tell him her Christmas gift she wants.
The Grinch wasn’t much of a Grinch in this movie. I can’t think of many moments in the film that I thought The Grinch was mean to everyone. The only few parts he was mean was when he pushed the head off of the snowman that a kid built and knocking a jar off of the top of the shelf that a Who wanted from a top shelf in the store. I never thought once that the Grinch was a Grinch, just a cranky creature. It’s was also odd to see him interact with the Who villagers, that pass off his actions like a “that’s our Grinch, wah wahhhh” and not fear or despise him. It makes The Grinch feel less like the hermit who hated Christmas in the book and more like a loner introvert who prefers to stay by himself. Benedict Cumberbatch was a strange (that may be a pun, I personally don’t know if I want to count that) choice I thought. He was fine and had a few sinister vocal moments where I felt that he was right as The Grinch, but didn’t add anything menacing or memorable to the role like Boris Karloff or Jim Carrey did. It’s like to come off as trying to make the Grinch more likable and misunderstood.
Another interesting note was Max. They really toned down the Grinch’s meanness towards Max and instead of being a servant to The Grinch and more of an overworked roommate serving The Grinch. Max never seemed reluctant and always went along with The Grinch’s plans with a smile and positive demeanor. The Grinch even gave in to Max at times, again making the Grinch less mean. I did like the look of Max the most, and he did have some funny moments. The most entertaining for me was when the Grinch asked if he was emotionally eating again to Max after they were out of food. After a chuckling montage, Max just grunts, which I interpreted as “a Little.” For whatever reason, this made me laugh.
There aren’t a lot of characters in this movie. We get to meet Bricklebaum an annoying Whovillager who loves Christmas and The Grinch hates due to said love of Christmas. Voiced by Kenan Thompson of Saturday Night Live and a standard role like many of the new additions could have just been cut out. We get the Lou who family of Donna Lou Who voiced by Rashida Jones as a mother raising the three kids including Cindy Lou Who voiced by Cameron Seely. Donna Lou was another character that did need to be seen to tell Cindy’s story but might have been able to have gotten away with not being voiced in the movie I thought. Cindy Lou felt less like a Dr. Seuss Character and more like a combination of Agnes and Edith from the Despicable Me Movies in terms of personality. Her interaction with The Grinch was only at the end of the movie, which I preferred. One thing the last film did which I didn’t like had Cindy Lou interact with The Grinch throughout the entire film.
Fred, an overweight reindeer that the Grinch captures, was a new character that was added to this movie. Fred really didn’t have a point to be in the film. He was caught by the Grinch to be his reindeer for his sled. He didn’t talk and gave some mild comic relief. Not too soon after, we found out that he has a kid and wife and wife, and The Grinch lets him go. Again and yet another point that he really wasn’t a hateful Grinch. I can’t see why any Grinch on any format would let him go. I feel The Grinch would have made his punishment worse. When you start to see the changes, you begin to see that this movie feels like a water down retelling of How the Grinch Stole Christmas for kids.
There were some other changes that I just didn’t get or understand why it was just cut. We didn’t get a snowing being or an explanation that the Who village was on a snowflake. We got a remake or remix of “You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch” by Tyler, the Creator. This is one of the moments where I wish they used the original lyrics and music. I didn’t hate it, but another moment it felt aimed for kids. Also, we didn’t get the Grinch’s iconic line of “It came without Ribbon’s, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags” and should have been put in. The most significant change was The Grinch didn’t save the sled after it went over the cliff, that went more to Fred, pulling it up after The Grinch fired a grappling hook to the cliff to try and save it from falling off of Mount Krumpit. I’d just prefer the Grinch strength after his heart grew three times his size that day. Pharrell Williams was the narrator also. He did a fine job with the role, but it didn’t seem as impactful as either Boris Karloff did in the cartoon or Anthony Hopkins in the live action movie.
Despite my negativity, there were more things about this movie I liked. The film felt for animated and colorful compared to the live action movie, which felt very dark in terms of tone and ascetic. Yes, it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but this should have been done this way in the first attempt of the movie. The Who’s were just there as background characters. They went about there day. A stark contrast to the live action movie as the who had a more prominent role, but come off as obsessive creatures that only cared about 1-uping each other and getting everything wrong about the Christmas spirit. While there wasn’t much of a backstory that was strong to the Grinch’s Hatred of Christmas besides he was left alone, It wasn’t an overly long tale like the live action movie that actually made me hate the Who’s more. As the Who’s were mean to him in that telling. At least in this backstory, The Who were just unaware that he was alone.
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