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Review: The Grinch

The Grinch
4 10

PLOT: A nasty little fellow they call The Grinch decides to steal Christmas from the happy town of Whoville in order to ruin the holiday. Will he succeed? Or will the magic of Christmas give him a change of heart?

REVIEW: There is something incredibly appealing about the old 1966 television special How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Boris Karloff playing the Grinch was a spectacular choice, and the entire story is told beautifully in twenty-nine minutes or so. While I wasn’t as much of a fan as many of you may have been, Universal brought this timeless character back in the 2000 live action version starring Jim Carrey. And now, they’ve decided to revisit the property with a brand new animated feature, this time it is simply called THE GRINCH. With an impressive cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones and Angela Lansbury, this could have been a fresh take on the classic material. Yet all it really manages to do is offer a bright and obnoxious visual display that rarely warrants a smile.

The Grinch (Cumberbatch) really hates Christmas. And when he discovers that the town of Whoville is about to make their annual celebration three times bigger than ever before, he decides he must put a stop to it. Soon, he makes a devious plan using his all too trusting pup Max, and sets out to ruin Christmas for everyone in this happy little community. It all leads to the villainous Grinch attempting one heck of a holiday heist, but one that may remind him of the goodness that the joys of Christmas can bring. I think most of you know the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but in case you don’t I won’t spoil the whole thing.

the grinch benedict comberbatch rashida jones boris karloff jim carrey scott mosier illumination entertainment minions

When we first see the opening shots of the snow covered lands near Whoville, it is an image made for the big screen. This wild and sweeping sequence that follows a few youthful woodland creatures skating on snow is quite adorable. This over abundance of visual energy never ceases to stop. The strange and wonderful world imagined by Dr. Seuss is certainly respected here for the most part. And directors, Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier, manage to bring a lot of the striking scenes to the film that most of us will remember from previous versions. Yet as lively as the look of the film is, it still feels dull and uninspired.

One of the biggest issues that didn’t quite connect was the casting of the narrator, and yes, that of The Grinch himself. Certainly the idea of Cumberbatch as the little man who is as “cuddly as a cactus” seemed like a perfect choice. However, there is something a bit too ho hum about this take on the character. Instead of evil and mean, he just comes across as whiny, selfish and kind of dopey. And since you spend the majority of the movie with this little green complainer, his appeal wears thin. And while I have nothing against Pharrell Williams, his narration skills are sadly lacking. His dull rendering of this familiar tale adds nothing to the material. If only the voice talent added the kind of energy that the over-the-top visuals offered.

the grinch scott mosier benedict cumberbatch rashida jones boris karloff jim carrey dr. seuss illumination entertainment

There is a moment early on where we hear the modern take on the classic tune, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” The updated soundtrack by Tyler, The Creator is about as unsatisfying as you can get. Had you heard it on an experimental cover album it might have been an interesting listen. However, once it begins to play in the film, this lifeless version does nothing to inspire much more than boredom. When the movie is called THE GRINCH, you should enjoy seeing that character a little more and hearing that creepy little song. Yet everything about this devilish character is a bit bland. However, I found that when the focus was on Whoville resident Donna Lou Who (Rashida Jones) and her rambunctious daughter Cindy Lou (Cameron Seely) it was a far more interesting story.

Illumination Entertainment is likely to have a hit with THE GRINCH simply because it is one of those holiday stories audiences respond to. Yet as big and brash as the new film can be, the main character himself is more irritating than enjoyable. Ultimately this update on a classic feels far too close to something like MINIONS with only hints of the magic that Boris Karloff or even Jim Carrey brought. This is certainly not the worst that the animation company has brought, but it is far from their best. And frankly, the 1966 version did it much better in far less time.

Source: JoBlo.com

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