The Grinch isn’t a mean one, but it’s not a good one, either

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The Grinch isn’t a mean one, but it’s not a good one, either

Brendan Sheardy, Staff Writer

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The Grinch is the third cinematic telling of Dr. Seuss’s classic story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” This film is directed by Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the Grinch. This is animation studio Illumination’s second Dr. Seuss adaptation, their first being “The Lorax.”

While the film does follow the same storyline of the Grinch stealing Christmas from Whoville because he has a lifelong hatred for it, the film takes a much different approach to it that may upset fans of the story. This started with the Grinch as a character, making him less conniving and more sympathetic. We are introduced to a backstory for the Grinch, which provides an explanation of why he hates Christmas, dating back to his childhood. This addition has no similarities to Jim Carrey’s version of the character, as the Grinch had no family for his entire childhood in this version. It was very generic and has been used in many other films before, which made it feel unspecial. This also makes the Grinch less of an angry character and more of a sad character. Part of what made the original memorable and lovable were the evil grins and the maniacal glances, but in this film he just mopes around and looks depressed, which took out almost all of the fun out of this film.

  He also wasn’t a “mean one”, as we see him hate Christmas, but throughout the film he is shown doing nice things for others and looking happy, before his heart grows three sizes. The film does address his heart being two sizes too small, but it never feels that way. They tried to make the Grinch likable, detracting from the sole purpose of the story.

This film more so plays out like a standard children’s film, which we’ve all come to expect from Illumination as a studio, but it felt a lot more dull and lifeless than most other children’s films. Each frame is stuffed full of bright, colorful, and cute animation, loud and pointless action sequences, and slapstick humor that will entertain a small child, but there isn’t much to offer for anyone else.

  What this film severely lacks is heart. There is an attempt the pull at the heartstrings of the audience with Cindy-Lou Who’s storyline, but it ultimately falls flat because of the lack of depth and development to her as a character. Her purpose in the film is that she wants to meet Santa on Christmas Eve to give him a special wish: for her mom to be happy, since she struggles to get by as a single mother with three kids. This, unfortunately, falls flat because that’s the only depth we are given to the character of Cindy-Lou and her mother. We get a three-minute scene seeing Donna-Lou Who struggle to make breakfast for her children, but that’s it. We don’t get to really see the everyday problems in her life, which compromises the emotion aspect since we don’t really connect with either character.

The Christmas spirit is not felt in here, either. The original animated version of this story gives audiences that warm and fuzzy feeling while watching it, but none of that is felt here. The most disappointing scene in the film was the actual stealing of Christmas sequence, which is rushed through with a montage. We see the Grinch speed through his break-ins, using high-tech gadgets to quickly take everything at once. Arguably the most important scene in this classic story was modernized with gadgets, and the spirit and the heart of this scene is completely lost, making the film feel like an empty experience.

      Another aspect of this classic story this film changes is the song, “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.” The song is present in the first scene we spend with the Grinch, but they altered it to sound like a hip-hop song. Not only is the song really bad, but it disrespects the classic song.

The film isn’t completely terrible, though, as there were some aspects of the film I enjoyed quite a bit. Benedict Cumberbatch was perfectly cast as the Grinch, as his snarky remarks elevated what was a dull script. I really cannot think of another actor who could’ve pulled off the role as perfectly as Cumberbatch did.

There was a scene in the beginning of the film where the Grinch travels down to Whoville to pick up some groceries, where we get to see him walk around Whoville being rude and evil to the citizens of Whoville, and all that has to do with Christmas. It was the only scene in the film where we got to see the Grinch be, well, the Grinch, and it was hilarious and very fun to watch.

I also loved the Grinch’s dog, Max. He was cute and the animation for his was very well done and funny.

Overall, The Grinch is not a film worth seeing. It was released way too early, and offers nothing for anyone over the age of 8. Some may say I’m being too harsh of this film since it was made for small children, but I disagree. I have seen many films made for children that stepped up to the plate and offered great messages and had a great level of craftsmanship and passion, and I didn’t feel any of that in this film.

Rating: 4/10

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The Grinch isn’t a mean one, but it’s not a good one, either