It all began in 1957 when Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel published “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” as a children’s book. Over the years, it has been adapted into animated films, a musical and even a live-action movie. The newest addition was this year’s animated film “The Grinch”, produced by Illumination, who are best known for their “Despicable Me” franchise.
As customary with most reviews, there will be spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own discretion.
Even after half a century, the character of the Grinch still persists as a timeless figure. The moment Illumination’s “The Grinch” began, there was already a sense of familiarity from previous adaptations. The melodic notes that emerged from Whoville to the tall snow-capped mountains that came to an unrealistically perfect point.
Overall, the film was well done. Jokes hit their punchlines, making the audience laugh, and by the end, there was a feeling of peace and closure.
In one scene, a group of carolers chased and ambushed the Grinch as he was traversing through town. Not only was seeing the Grinch running from a group of merry singers comedic, but the sound design reflected atmosphere perfectly. As the carolers moved closer to the Grinch, the volume and direction of sound shifted accordingly. They also intensified the music itself to make the scene more dramatic.
When comparing this remake to the 2000 live-action film starring Jim Carrey, I found it displayed a more realistic and humble version of the Grinch. Yes, as customary, he was rude and hated Christmas in the beginning, but his lifestyle was not as destructive. His dog Max did act like a servant to him at times, but throughout the film, you could see they actually cared about each other. At one point, the Grinch hurts Max’s feelings, and then shortly after, sincerely apologizes to him. Further on when the moose called Fred joins them, the two animals have a light rivalry for the Grinch’s affection. In addition to the Grinch’s relationship with Max, even his cave-home is more organized and clean, not covered in trash.
I did enjoy this animated film much more than the live action movie for multiple reasons, but there is one in specific that both made the film better and hindered its plot.
In the original storybook, there is no listed origin story to why the Grinch became what he is. Those who have watched the live action movie will recall that the Grinch stormed off as a child after being bullied, and as an adult encountered his bully and his ex-love interest. This origin story was a bit absurd and the execution of how it played out in his adult life was strange. This drama seemed to be intended more for adults than the kids of their supposed target audience.
The animated film redeemed itself in that none of that drama and bullying was there.
Instead, the young Grinch was just left all alone in an orphanage while everyone else in the town celebrated Christmas. In reality, a lot of orphanages will rely on donations to have gifts for the children and to construct a small celebration. Those children who were not lucky enough to experience that often grow up to resent the holidays and choose to distance themselves from families who celebrate. This completely makes sense for the Grinch’s reaction to isolate himself if it were not for one detail. Whoville deems Christmas as the most important holiday of the year. They portray charity, generosity and goodwill in all that they do for each other during this time. Yet, somehow none of them would donate to the orphanage or invite the children to a feast? It just doesn’t seem right.
What I admire most about this movie is the ending and how it tied in Cindy Lou’s wish. In this version of “The Grinch”, Cindy Lou has twin infant brothers and a single mother who is always overworked and doing things for others. She makes one wish, which she conveys to Grinch when mistaking him for Santa, to make her mom’s life easier.
After the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes, he was invited to a party at Cindy Lou’s house and immediately starts helping her mom carry food to the serving table. Then, throughout the credits, you see as he uses his skills in engineering to construct a multitude of gadgets to make the mom’s life so much more convenient and hands-free. Seeing her reactions and knowing he fulfilled Cindy Lou’s wish made the storyline all the more special. I can easily see the Grinch becoming an addition to their family. As well, it would bring closure to his orphaned isolation and allow him to have a family he can call his own.
To close, the film was funny, sweet and touching despite a minor flaw. It is one I definitely recommend and will probably watch again with family.