There is no denying that the 1966 animation, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” is a Christmas classic holding an irreplaceable place in the hearts of many. In 2000, the Grinch went Hollywood in the popular live-action adaptation starring comedian Jim Carrey and narrated by Anthony Hopkins. A new generation was awakened to the greatness of the Grinch through Carrey’s unforgettable comedic interpretation. These beloved adaptations of the 1957 children’s book left the new version with a lot to live up to.
Upon hearing about this Illumination Entertainment remake simply titled, “The Grinch,” portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch and narrated by Pharrell Williams, I found myself having an instantaneous Grinch-like reaction. As a fan of Carrey’s brilliant portrayal, I didn’t see the point in making another remake. Although the animation studio is responsible for other successful films like “Minions,” the “Despicable Me” trilogy and Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax,” I remained doubtful. With more hesitance than excitement, I gave the movie a try. After finding my eyes glued to the screen, admiring the graphics and humorous antics, I felt my heart growing two sizes bigger.
Illumination Entertainment managed to keep the spirit of the Grinch while adding a modern twist. This adaption does not seek to replace the original animation nor emulate the spot-on comedic timing of the live-action version. Rather, it finds its home as the Grinch for the new generation.
With a revamped soundtrack leading with the classic track, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” by Tyler, the Creator, the film establishes its newfound edge. The album features a mix of artists including: The Supremes, Nat King Cole, Run- DMC, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Pentatonix and Jackie Wilson. Danny Elfman, best known for composing the 1989 Batman score and several Tim Burton films, contributed two songs and assisted the reinvention of the intro track.
Surprisingly and with much delight, the film portrays the female characters in a progressive manner. Additionally, the film shifted focus from Cindy Lou Who questioning the materialism that often consumes the holiday season to seeking the gift of happiness for her hard-working single mother, Donna Lou Who, voiced by Rashida Jones. Unlike before, the prominent father figure Mr. Lou Who is absent. Instead, it is revealed that Cindy has younger twin brothers, Buster and Bean. As a single mother of three working tiresome night shifts to maintain her kids, Donna’s efforts are rightfully recognized. Cindy, often characterized for being shy and timid, is an entirely different girl than her past portrayals. Shedding her modest image, this 2018 Cindy is sporty, outgoing and independent. Cindy proves herself to be a great role model for all the little girls bound to watch this movie.
Just like the 2000 version, this film expands on the Grinch’s storyline beyond the pages of Seuss’s book. The narrator notably added original rhymes throughout the film, which provided context for the Grinch’s sour attitude towards Christmas and everything having to do with the cheery holiday season.
The most disappointing aspect of this remake isn’t the film itself, rather its release date. Opening on Nov. 7 nationwide, this film is in theaters a long way out from Christmas and even Thanksgiving. With that in mind, if you were planning to see this movie closer to Christmas, it might be time to reconsider. Illumination might have opted for an earlier release to create anticipation for Grinch-themed merchandise. Unlike the Whos, Hollywood decided to place money above Christmas cheer, missing out on the obvious opportunity to have a Christmas movie play during December.
While this version of the Grinch probably won’t replace the original version in the hearts of Seussian purists, it deserves recognition for its cool, hip interpretation of a beloved Christmas character. Cumberbatch’s Grinch compliments Carrey’s Grinch, ensuring its place as the new Christmas must-see movie this holiday season. Despite its name, “The Grinch” promises Christmas cheer and joy. So gather ‘round Whos, grab yourself some moose juice and cheer on, “to kindness and love, the things we need most.”