REVIEW: ‘The Grinch’ offers fresh revamp to everyone’s favorite Christmas grouch



Alex Novak

“The Grinch,” Illumination’s latest animated film, soars as a refreshing, mature take on the grouchy, anti-Christmas character.

The old-time animated classic first appeared as a TV special, called “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” There was also the live-action 2000 holiday favorite of the same name directed by Ron Howard, that starred Jim Carrey.

As expected, this new version tells the beloved story of how the Grinch plans to prevent Christmas from happening in the fictional town below his mountain home, Whoville. He steals gifts and decorations to ruin the celebration.

This installment offers a very unique, new point of view as it explores themes of anxiety, isolation and even depression within the titular character.

Taking this new approach, it casts the Grinch in a different light, keeping his holiday loathing alive as ever but crafting his persona as one that is guarded from any sense of emotion.

It is perhaps the most accurate interpretation of the depth of the classic Dr. Seuss tale, as it takes a further look at the possible explanations for why the Grinch is the way he is. It shows a rough childhood he experienced all because of his differences in appearance compared to the Whos.

This portrayal, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, drives home the point that the Grinch’s anger is ultimately not toward the Whos, or even the commercialism of Christmas itself, but rather the loneliness he has always felt deep inside him.

Another story aspect that stands out is the array of modern musical choices, which are fun, modern updates to the old Grinch tracks that everyone knows and loves. The songs help set the plot in motion.

Specifically it uses quite a few new, hip-hop infused tunes that give the movie a chill tone. The highlights are Tyler, the Creator’s contributions on “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “I Am the Grinch.”

Danny Elfman, who composed the film’s score, mirrors this, using upbeat sounds to move the story at a consistent pace of fun and comedy, mixing well with the more heartfelt message of the film.

Illumination created this film with its past projects in mind (the production company brought us the extremely popular “Despicable Me”), from the story dynamics and characterization to the compelling narration Pharrell Williams provides. Williams was also the music producer of the “Despicable Me” series.

With solid performances from its cast — particularly by Cumberbatch, Williams, Cameron Seely and Kenan Thompson — this heartwarming holiday story provides fun for audiences of all ages just in time for the Christmas season.

Alex Novak is an entertainment reviewer. Contact him at [email protected].