Audio News & Reviews

The Grinch Movie Review

The Grinch Review

By Matthew Passantino

Mr. Grinch Isn’t Quite a Monster

Dr. Seuss’ 1957 holiday classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” gets its third film adaption with “The Grinch,” the latest candy-colored animated outing from Illumination Entertainment. There’s enough silliness and pratfalls for the movie to work as a family outing, but in the end, “The Grinch” doesn’t really justify its own existence.

The tale is as old as time, so you know how it goes. The Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) lives in a cave with his dog Max, who is his only friend and source of communication (Max doesn’t talk, but The Grinch certainly does a lot of talking at Max). The Grinch’s home overlooks Whoville, a community of high-spirited and happy people who truly love Christmas. But, of course, The Grinch does not.

One day, The Grinch concocts a plan to take Christmas away from everyone in Whoville, because if he hates Christmas then why should they have it? So he makes a Santa suit, preps a sleigh, and turns Max into a reindeer. In the wee hours of Christmas morning, he will gather all the presents, lights, and decorations from every house in Whoville, and his hatred for Christmas will be solved. It’s all going according to plan until The Grinch meets a young girl named Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely), who just might be the one who can change The Grinch’s heart.


Directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier have retained the basic Seussian outline of the story without creating a carbon copy. “The Grinch” is very different from the source material or Ron Howard’s 2000 film adaption starring Jim Carrey. Cumberbatch’s Grinch keeps the general grumpiness but plays up the loneliness and sadness that underpins it. The Grinch travels into Whoville before thwarting Christmas, which seems like a rather big diversion for the character, who typically tries to avoid these people. Cheney and Mosier have put cracks in The Grinch’s hard exterior.

In that sense, it doesn’t really feel like the movie has captured the essence of the story, even with the assist by Pharrell Williams as the narrator speaking Seuss’ original words. Carrey’s iteration probably took it to the extreme (sue me, I still like it) with a much darker approach, which is nowhere to be found here. “The Grinch” looks like most movies from Illumination: piercingly bright, seamlessly animated, and clear. The Grinch character is practically neon green, which feels awfully bright for a character looking to usurp an entire holiday.

At the end of the day, one can’t really be too hard on a movie like “The Grinch.” It often feels like an excuse to use a preexisting property for receipts, but it will bring families out to the movies and provide an entertaining enough time. If only it had truly captured the essence and spirit of Seuss’ original vision.

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