Merry Grinch-mas


People wait in line at Ballston Mall to see what is new in theaters. The Grinch made approximately $66 million during the first weekend of its release.

With the holiday season fast approaching and the weather getting colder, it seems like time to take out “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”, cuddle up on the couch and continue with my family’s tradition. This year may mark the beginning of a new tradition with the family-friendly, 2018 animated film, “The Grinch.”

Almost everyone has seen the 1966 classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” Some have seen the live action version starring Jim Carrey, which came to theaters in 2000. Now, a new movie can be added to the collection. On November 9, the film first appeared in theaters, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the Grinch. Directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier pitched the movie as an origin story of the lovable, green creature. Danny Elfman scored the film, creating a unique twist on the original soundtrack.

The well-known story from the children’s book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” by Dr. Seuss has grown and changed over time. The art style of the movie makes the Grinch fit right in beside the minions of the movie “Despicable Me”, created by the same company. While the original film’s art style was very different, both did a good job of depicting  a Grinch viewers can sympathize with, though 2018 has brought a slightly more cuddly version. Aside from the art style, the new take on the classic movie added a few faces. These new characters include a jolly townsperson intent on getting the Grinch out of his cave and a reindeer to help pull the Grinch’s sleigh. The characters did not take away from the film, but they also did not add very much to it.

I will admit, going in I had my scepticisms. An origin story? They should just leave Dr. Seuss’ writing as is. The original is close to my heart, and seeing yet another remake did not sit well with me.

Cumberbatch has voiced many interesting roles, and it seems he has another to add to the list. The voice of the Grinch seemed to fit the character well; on the other hand, it would have been almost impossible to tell that Cumberbatch voices the classic role had I not known beforehand. Movie lovers are used to hearing and seeing Cumberbatch in roles such as Dr. Strange and Sherlock Holmes, but not as a cartoon character. That being said, the detail put into the movie is incredible. Every morning, the Grinch gives himself a little spruce, spraying “Mold Spice” under his arms rather than Old Spice, the classic deodorant brand.

However, there were a few things that bothered me about the movie. Firstly, Pharrell Williams’ narration seemed to interrupt more than add to the story. It was sparsely distributed throughout the film and was not similar enough to Dr. Seuss’s creatively crafted meter for my taste. The rap-like Grinch theme seemed to be out of place in the film, which is obviously geared toward young children.

The biggest issue I had, though, was that the self proclaimed “origin story” did not provide much of an origin at all. Apart from approximately five minutes of a flashback to when the Grinch was young, the movie essentially retold the original tale of a green grump who finds that the spirit of Christmas was inside him all along.

The contrast between the 2000 live action movie and the new film is extreme, making the newer version much more approachable for young children. The 2000 version depicts the Grinch in a gross, frightening way that could be a source of nightmares for kids.

Several times throughout the movie, I felt myself on the brink of tears. “Now I see that it wasn’t Christmas I hated,” the Grinch said. “It was being alone.”

While the movie tugs at the heartstrings, it does not differentiate enough from the original. It was as if Cheney and Mosier tried to take the story in a different direction, but ended up returning to the same, classic storyline.

This holiday season, while I myself may be sticking with the 1966 version, 2018’s “The Grinch” will spread the spirit of Christmas to many, especially those who did not grow up loving the original film.