The Grinch: Not Enough Naughty, Too Much Nice

Illumination Entertainment’s animated film The Grinch premiered last Friday and did surprisingly well in the box office. The classic Dr. Seuss remake earned an estimated $66 million opening in America this weekend and $78.7 million worldwide, which gave it the No. 1 spot ahead of its competitor Bohemian Rhapsody.

Universal estimated that the story of Mr. Grinch, who is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, would bring in about $50 million, while box office experts predicted closer to $60 million worldwide.

The animated film took a slightly different approach in depicting the infamous Christmas grouch. Illumination created a more relatable backstory that involved Mr. Grinch growing up in an orphanage. Without a family to celebrate Christmas with, he was forced to angrily watch as other Who-children received the love and gifts that have become synonymous with the holiday.

Mr. Grinch’s journey towards Christmas-hatred was emotional but didn’t translate into the Grinch that we’ve grown accustomed to. The Cumberbatch Grinch did mean things occasionally, but it was clear from the start that he was trying to fight back against the goodness inside of him.

For instance, the first time Mr. Grinch visits Whoville (On a mission to buy enough food to last him until January) he has a series of hilariously cruel interactions with the Who-people.

While stalking the aisles he pops a whole pickle into his mouth before spitting it back out into the jar to place it among other groceries in a random Who’s cart. When he sees an old Who-lady struggling to reach the last jar of jelly he grabs it, acts like he’s going to give it to her, places it back onto the high rack, and then slaps it down to the ground where it splatters.

These are classic Grinch moves and had the entire audience chuckling, including the adults. However, after his mean shopping spree, there was a drastic fall-off in, well, Grinchiness. He treats his dog Max like man’s best friend (for the most part), he frees an overweight reindeer named Fred to be with his family instead of making him pull his sled, and he’s fond of Cindy Lue from the minute they meet.

Illumination never lets Mr. Grinch be the Grinch, which culminates during his plan to launch a giant snowball towards the enormous celebratory Christmas tree that the Who’s have set-up. The cannon ends up malfunctioning and instead of the snowball taking out the Who’s Christmas spirit, Mr. Grinch himself is catapulted into the middle of the holiday festivities.

This was fine and the movie was obviously catered towards a younger demographic, as an animated Christmas movie should be, but unlike most animated classics it didn’t keep my attention. It was just too kiddy.

Now, it’s only fair to admit that I’m a big Jim Carrey Grinch fan. Who doesn’t like How The Grinch Stole Christmas? Carrey’s Grinch is hilarious, funny, disgusting, and even raunchy at times. It wasn’t much of a kid’s movie and its writers included a ton of innuendo and adult humor, but that Grinch was believable! When I envisioned someone who hated Christmas as a kid I saw termite infested teeth and a steady diet of literal garbage.

As a kid’s movie this Grinch checks off all of the boxes. It’s not overly mean, all of its humor is dumbed down enough for a child to digest for a laugh, and there’s the classic happy ending of a heart growing three-times in size.

The animation in the film is top notch, which is to be expected from Illumination. The scenes where Mr. Grinch is using ninja stars and net-shooting candy cane guns to wrap up Christmas trees and snag presents look great. Plus the way that this Grinch steals Christmas using his gadgets is way more thought out than the lousy vacuum method of Carrey’s.

The film’s last scene is heartwarming and will have some movie watching softies tearing up at Mr. Grinch’s dinner toast. I’d recommend that if you have kids, go and watch the movie once and let them enjoy the new-age Grinch; they’ll probably love it. If you don’t have kids and you’re looking for a Grinch fix, go on Netflix and pop on Carrey’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, you won’t be disappointed.




Photo credit: Universal Pictures

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