Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch (2018)

A generic and forgettable adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss story, The Grinch has a few cute and charming moments, but it’s ultimately a bland disappointment.

Stepping into this film, I put all thoughts of previous adaptations out of my head. I didn’t compare or contrast this with other versions. I wanted to experience this film on its own terms without thinking about Boris Karloff’s delicious performance affecting my review. Too many people review movies based off previous versions or preconceived notions about what the movie should be.

After viewing the film with clear eyes and a clean perspective, its still not very good. The animation is generic. The story is confusingly told with too many extra elements cluttering the narrative. And the characters are all flat.

The film was produced by illumination. They made the Minions, and The Lorax. This film looks identical to those films. There’s literally no difference in the look and style of this film compared to every other film the company has produced. The characters look and move the same. There is no character revealed through movement when everyone moves in the same cartoonish way.

The story follows a town that loves Christmas to excess. They have to fly in a tree so large it eclipses the sun. The Grinch hates Christmas. He decides to stop it from happening. His plan is to steal all the Christmas trappings in the town thus ending Christmas. The problem is they weigh down that simple narrative with complications and subplots that don’t add much except to pad the run time.

In one sequence, the Grinch’s sad childhood is revealed. It explains that he was an orphan who never got to celebrate Christmas as a child, and that’s why he hates it. Nobody invited him to celebrate, so he hates it. The problem is that the film shows many people inviting him to celebrate Christmas. He hates Christmas because he feels excluded, but people are now trying to include him. This is just a messy muddled motivation that confuses the whole story rather than adding depth.

The same with Cindy Lou Who. She’s a precocious kid who wants Santa to help her mother. She’s a single mom who’s struggling to take care of three kids and grueling overnight work schedule. The problem is Cindy is constantly running out and plotting to see Santa instead of helping her mom. If she just helped her mom take care of the house and the other kids her mom probably wouldn’t be so exhausted, and there’d be no reason to talk to Santa. This is clearly supposed to be a sweet subplot, but it’s so undone by its own illogical nature that it falls flat.

Finally the characters. The grinch isn’t so much a grinch as he is a hipster who rejects Christmas because it’s cool. He just gives off this hipster attitude that is so irritating to sit through. It also softens the character and undermines his central conflict with those around him. How the hipster stole Christmas just isn’t as interesting a movie.

Now there are moments of genuine sweetness and quality here. It has a couple of nice touches. Animated dogs are always wonderful. The problem is the movie is just forgettable. It goes down easy, but doesn’t last. Within a day of watching it I’ve forgotten most of it.

You can do worse this Christmas season, but if you’re skimming Netflix looking for a family movie to watch skip this one and watch Klaus instead.

Not my cup of tea. C

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