An antisocial hermit plots to steal Christmas
from the kindhearted Whos of Whoville.
The Grinch (2018)
Directed by Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier
Written by Michael LeSieur and Tommy Swerdlow
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Pharrell Williams, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury
Remake of 2000's How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Based on the book by Dr. Seuss
I'm a big fan of both the 1966 Boris Karloff short cartoon and the 2000 Jim Carrey live-action Grinch. I didn't think we needed another one, especially since Illumination Studios is known primarily for dumbed-down kiddie entertainment. Well, turns out I was right. 2018's The Grinch adds nothing to the story and actually subtracts a great deal of the intriguing backstory and motive established in the 2000 film. But Cumberbatch's voicework is fantastic. He really sells the Grinch as less of a hateful monster and more of a depressed, antisocial loner. Basically, he's hipster Grinch with an unnecessary rap soundtrack. It's a weird movie.
Gone is the subtext about the dangers of commercialism and taking the holidays for granted. Instead, it's an hour and a half of the Grinch goofing off with his dog and a reindeer while Cindy Lou plans to trap Santa Claus. Also, her wish that her mom would be less stressed out never comes true, and the town of Whoville isn't scared or repulsed by the Grinch. He comes and goes as he pleases, and those who do talk to him are fairly cordial. So, where does this hatred of the Whos and the animosity come from? Virtually nowhere. It's just there because it needs to be for the story to make sense. At least in the 2000 version, we learn why the Grinch hates Christmas and it makes sense. The people are scared of him because he terrorizes them off and on and because the mayor hates him. It makes sense and it works. Regrettably, this version has no real point to make.
The Grinch is cute from time to time, particularly the scene where Grinch is trying to escape the persistent carolers. That had me rolling. But besides a few funny scenes, The Grinch just doesn't bring enough to the table to justify its existence. It's forgettable, wildly unnecessary, and will in no way replace either the original cartoon or the live-action film in peoples' Christmas marathons.