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The Grinch is an Update With a Fresh Coat of Paint for a New Generation

Photo Credit: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures

The 1966 television edition of the Dr. Seuss book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is as synonymous with the holiday season as Christmas trees and your aunt’s “famous” fruitcake. It’s a time tested tale of a green, furry creature and his lovable dog companion despising the spirit of Christmas, and then surrendering to it. The story was later adapted in the Ron Howard-directed 2000 movie where Jim Carrey showed that he was basically born to play the live action adaptation of the iconic character. That performance that was so good, that it overshadowed some of the more low points of the movie.

Flash forward to 2018. Illumination, the studio that brought you the Despicable Me franchise and The Secret Life of Pets have brought a sleeker, updated look to The Grinch. Within this version, it’s a mix of the small jokes that are known from Illumination movies and the same lessons and heart from the original story. These themes intercede well even though the movie doesn’t tell you anything new about the story. ‘The Grinch’ is more so here to get the next generation familiar who might not like the more dated look of the 1966 version.

Pharrell Williams serves as the narrator as the overlay to the story reciting Seuss’s words from the book. This is a nice bridge between major plot points that happen such as the flashback to The Grinch’s childhood to find out why he holds so much contempt for the Whos’ and Christmas. The Grinch himself is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch who lends his own flavor to the very standoff-ish and grumpy character. It’s where Cumberbatch is able to switch emotions that’s the key to this movie. Once The Grinch starts to let his guard down and integrate himself into Whoville is where you feel the emotional chords of the movie.

The Grinch interacts with only a few characters throughout the whole movie. Max has his own personality which not only foreshadows the eventual kindness that The Grinch will feel, but may make you want to get a dog of your own. Bricklebaum (Keenan Thompson), the zealous commander of Whoville’s holiday spirit has some funny interactions. You also can’t forget the unsung hero, The Grinch’s lone reindeer, Fred. While there are not a lot of supporting characters, they do make their presence meaningful.

The story goes into two different parts with two different characters towards the 2nd and 3rd acts. You see The Grinch’s journey from spite of the Whos Christmas spirit and the eventual “heart grows three sizes big” theme. There is also Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely) who has to see Santa for a very special wish.

The dynamic between Cindy and her mother Donna (Rashida Jones) is very heartwarming. You have a daughter that wants to give her single mother some relief and happiness of her own. With the independence of Cindy at a young age, it’s cool to see how that story comes full circle and how Donna lets her know that she and her brother are the reasons that give her life. Cindy also brings four of her friends in on the catching Santa ploy. Each of theme have their own personalities that brings laughter within their screen time.

Animation-wise, The Grinch is a beauty. When Whoville is lit up in its Christmas splendor, you feel the vibration of the lights and decorations. You see the vastness of the landscape even if it’s confined to just one town. The Grinch’s cave is very high up on a mountain that seems a million miles away from actual Whoville. That doubles as a plot device to show how The Grinch has distanced himself from the townspeople and how different they were.

Will the 2018 Illumination version of the The Grinch serve as a reinvention of Dr. Seuss’s original story? Probably not. The purpose of this movie is to bring the story to children who haven’t gotten a chance to see the original. Directors Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney kept the base and fixings of the original story and added some modern kinks, here and there. for older viewers, there may not be anything new here. As a family viewing, it’s enough to get you in the holiday spirit.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

The Grinch is playing in theaters nationwide.

Murjani Rawls
Murjani Rawlshttp://www.murjanirawls.com
Murjani is a journalist, self-published author, podcast producer, and photographer working out of the tri-state area. Since 2014, Murjani has been stretching his creativity and passions. He has contributed over 18 websites and over 1,000 articles to his journalism portfolio, providing timely commentary on music, television, movies, politics, sports, and more. Murjani has photographed over 250+ artists spanning many musical genres, is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, and has covered festivals such as Lollapalooza, Sundance Film Festival, and SXSW. Murjani has five self-published books of poetry, three of which have reached the top ten in new releases on Amazon upon release. He is currently the Culture Editor at DraftKings Nation / Vox Media. He was previously staff writer at The Root, senior editor & writer at Substream Magazine, and senior writer, editor, and podcast producer at The Pop Break.

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