By Kaylee Brewster
Two-and-a-half out of four
“Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” might make some old-school Grinch enthusiasts feel, well, Grinchy. But to a new generation, the film offers whimsical Christmas wonder.
You all likely know the story by now, the Grinch (this time voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) hates Christmas. He sits up on his home on Mount Crumpet with his dog Max stewing over Whoville’s exuberant Christmas spirit. Then one day he decides to steal Christmas.
Of course, to fill out a 90 minute movie, “The Grinch” adds details not in the book or in previous cinematic versions of the story. This time Cindy Lou Who (voiced by Cameron Seely) is the child of a single mother (voiced by Rashida Jones). They also give the Grinch a sad, but vague, backstory to explain his hatred of Christmas, his meanness and aloofness. The new details seem to distract from the central narrative.
The Grinch also is only moderately mean. Sure, he hates Christmas, is rude and unhelpful to other Whos, but this Grinch isn’t termites-in-your-smile, seasick-crocodile or untouchable-with-a-39-and-a-half-foot-pole mean, as the signature classic song suggests. Whether this is a good or bad development depends on your interpretation of how horrible “the mean one” should be in a PG-rated Christmas movie for kids.
Because that’s who the film is for — kids.
It’s not for die-hard Seuss fans. In addition to the added story elements, the modernization of the story features narrator Pharrell Williams bustin’ some new rhymes and a new take on the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”
No, this one’s for the younger crowd. The Grinch is funny and Max is an adorable and lovable sidekick, so when the Grinch gets crushed by a snowball or Max gives the Grinch an questionable look, the theater erupts into fits of giggles. Adults in the audience can’t resist joining in.
If nothing else, the animation is worth seeing — especially on the big screen. It looks so colorful, alive and real. Snow clings to Max’s doggy hair like the real deal. The opening scene, a continuous long-shot over the forest, mountains, trees and rivers sweeping into Whoville, is created so beautifully, so remarkably, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t filmed with a camera.
Whether you should see “The Grinch” depends on a few things. This one is for those who like remakes with a new take, for children or children at heart, and those who love Christmas movies and can’t wait for the season to begin. No matter the case, the heart of the story contains the same lesson for all, the idea that the real meaning of Christmas can’t be found on an aisle at the mall.