Saturday, February 9, 2019

Review: The Grinch (on DVD)

The Grinch
[DVD j Grinch]

Having been a fan of the old Chuck Jones animated half-hour cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas since my childhood, I’ve always had issues with anyone wanting to “update” or “modernize” this classic Dr. Seuss story for film. For instance, I am not much of a fan of the Jim Carrey live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). However, despite my hesitancy about yet another Grinch film, I ended up enjoying this one quite a bit.

This is a computer-animated film, in the same way that most modern animated films are — it is from the same people who did the series of Despicable Me films. The filmmakers pay a lot of tribute to the 1966 animated film from Chuck Jones (known for his work with Warner Brothers cartoons (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc.). There are numerous shout outs to the music and character appearances from that animated short. There is also, obviously, a lot of tribute paid to the original 1957 children’s picture book by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel). An almost-unrecognizable Benedict Cumberbatch provides the voice of The Grinch, with a few familiar names in the voice cast (Keenan Thompson, Pharrell Williams, Rashida Jones), though most of the voice actors are child actors whom I didn’t recognize. The relatively simple plot of Dr. Seuss’ original story is expanded upon, to give a deeper understanding of what would have caused The Grinch to become so…Grinch-like…that he’d want to ruin an entire town’s Christmas.

The humor throughout this charming re-telling of the story is marvelous and sweet, unlike the slightly edgy humor in the Carrey film. Mr. Grinch’s relationship with his put-upon dog Max, and their partnership with Fred the overweight reindeer (a new addition for this film) is cute and sentimental, and nicely balances out against Grinch’s more anti-social attitudes towards everyone else in nearby Who-ville. An amusing subplot of Cindy-Lou Who’s efforts to work with all her friends to stay up and have an interview with Santa (on behalf of her mother) provides some added emotion to the plot. But at the heart of it, this is still a story of The Grinch making elaborate plans to steal Who-ville’s Christmas, and the effects of this on the rest of the characters.

As someone who grew up on the 1966 classic version of this story, I’ll have to say that nothing will ever replace that in my heart — the images, the voice performances and the music are unforgettable. But I did enjoy The Grinch a lot, and do recommend it. My only real complaint was with the music. Danny Elfman’s orchestral score soundtrack was marvelous and inventive. But I found the rap and/or hip-hop adaptions of classic Grinch songs (“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”) to be unpleasant. It was also unusual to have traditional pop Christmas songs scattered throughout the film as background music. That caveat notwithstanding, it’s a fun film!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the original 1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas animated film, the 2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas live-action film or Dr. Seuss’s 1957 book How the Grinch Stole Christmas.]
[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official The Grinch web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you watched this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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