Isaiah Simeon ‘22 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
How do you convince audiences to see a retelling of a classic story, but it’s just the same story, except this time with really good animation? Apparently, you cast Benedict Cumberbatch as the lead, somehow get him to put forth roughly fifty percent effort, and get Tyler, the Creator (yes, that Tyler, the Creator) to perform a rendition of the theme song.
It feels important to preface all criticisms of this film with an acknowledgment that this is a children’s movie – made for children. Will children enjoy this film? Yes, most likely. Mission accomplished. With that being said, this movie sucks.
Illumination’s newest animated film, The Grinch, tells Dr. Seuss’ classic story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, of an outcast green man committing grand larceny on a town of small-nosed materialists. The previous iteration of the story was 2000’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, starring Jim Carrey in an ungodly amount of prosthetics. This iteration is widely considered the best Christmas movie of all time (okay, maybe not, but it should be), so this new adaptation had a lot to live up to.
Although labeling it an ‘adaptation’ seems a little generous. The term ‘adaptation’ implies a unique take on a story, and this is not exactly that. It is almost admirable just how little effort was put forth into making this film original. It is, note for note, the same story, except this time the non-Grinch part of the movie focuses on a little girl (Cameron Seely) who wants Santa Claus to help her overworked single mom (Rashida Jones) by sending her… a husband… maybe… it was very vague regarding what outcome the child was hoping for.
But none of that matters, to the filmmakers, at least, because they never resolve this storyline. Seriously, it just ends. It’s like they hit the minimum word count on the script and realized they could be done, so just quickly made the Grinch learn his lesson and called it a day.
And on that note, the lesson of the film, which is the same lesson in all versions of the Grinch story, is very weak, at least compared to previous iterations. There are about ten total lines of dialogue dedicated to the lesson of the film. It’s not like it is trying to be subtle or anything – it’s just lazy.
Will children get the message? Not if they zone out for a minute or two at the end.
The most astonishing aspect of the film is that it somehow managed to have an hour and a half runtime without having a single memorable scene. Honestly, props. That’s impressive. The original movie adaptation of the Grinch story in 1966 came in with a 26-minute runtime, and still crafted a better message and narrative. However, that version does not have Pharrell Williams as the narrator, so it’s a toss-up.
To reiterate – this is a movie undeniably made for children, who do not concern themselves with ill-crafted narratives and undeveloped characters. The most justified critique of the film is that it does not care enough about its message, which is its main responsibility as a children’s film. Final verdict – the Jim Carrey version remains the unmatched kind of Grinch movies. Better luck next time, Cumberbatch.
Overall Grade: C
Watch The Trailer: