By JW McNay/managing editor

‘The Grinch’ does little to improve old tale

With the holiday season upon us, the newest version of The Grinch fails to live up to its predecessors.

Directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier took on Dr. Seuss’ classic, which follows the curmudgeon who can’t stand Christmas. For those familiar with the character and story, the newest interpretation offers a modernized retelling of the classic with contemporary animation.

The last time the furry green character made an appearance on the big screen was in 2000 with the release How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the live action version of the tale that was full of more adult humor, though still friendly enough for children to watch. 

The 2018 movie opens with the expected snowy landscape of Whoville, a winter wonderland full of people with oddly shaped noses. But similarities beyond the main aspects of the story stop there as the differences between the two films abound. 

One of the most glaring differences is apparent right off the bat in the lead character. Though Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the latest Grinch, makes a valiant effort in the 3D-animated version, he falls short of what Jim Carrey so effortlessly achieved with his portrayal of the green meanie in the 2000 live action adaptation of the classic.

Another big change involves the Grinch’s background and childhood. Cheney and Mosier’s interpretation depicts a very different upbringing for the title character.

The movie also introduces new characters and elements that deviate from its source material and past versions of the story. The most modern of which is Donna Who, Cindy-Lou’s mother, who is depicted as a hard-working single mother.

Fred, a large and very round reindeer who joins the Grinch and his dog Max for part of the journey, is the most entertaining addition. He’s sure to be the fan favorite for younger moviegoers. 

In addition to Fred, the film has plenty to keep children on the edge of their seats with many short action sequences and visually engaging scenes. 

Though the action is fun and silly, it does very little to make the movie stand out from other typical children’s movies. 

Especially since, after a while, adults will likely grow bored because the scenes begin to feel like they’re there just for the sake of action. It’s almost as though the directors used a formula to decide where to put the action sequences, several of which feel random and unnecessary. 

The movie’s pacing also struggles despite only having a runtime of about 90 minutes, which is fairly standard for a family movie. But considering the last animated version of the tale tells the same story in 26-minutes, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

To fill the runtime, Cindy-Lou Who’s role was greatly expanded compared to other versions, like the one released in 2000 that further developed the Grinch’s story with a love interest and a background to explain his hatred of Christmas. 

On the bright side, the movie’s theme and message remain intact, but the end of the film just feels like it’s missing something. Maybe it because they took too long to get there or because the things the filmmakers did to set their take on the classic apart from past versions missed the mark. 

Either way, with the holidays practically here, The Grinch is a classic and the experience of seeing the newest rendition of the story could be worth it to those with young children and those who feel their hearts are two sizes too small this year. 

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