Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a classic Christmas story that’s been adapted to both live-action and animated media since being first published in 1957. It started off with the 1966 animated TV special and the first rendition of the infamous ‘You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch’ sung by Thurl Ravenscroft. Ron Howard brought the Grinch to life with the help of Jim Carrey in their 2000 live-action adaptation. Eighteen years later, Illumination Entertainment has returned the mean, green, anti-Christmas machine to animation with the more simply titled, The Grinch.
The Grinch follows the classic story of Dr. Seuss’s book, as narrated by Pharrell Williams, introducing the titular character (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) as a loathsome creature who lives hidden away in Mount Crumpit, with only his dog, Max, for company. Down below sits Whoville, a festive little town – that sits on a snowflake – known for its love of Christmas.
The Grinch’s journey in this 2018 adaptation differs to the one that we’ve all come to know and love. In stories previous, audiences have seen the Grinch warm to the Who’s and to Christmas, as his friendship with Cindy Lou gets stronger through her persistence to show him affection, despite his grouchy demeanour.
Illumination Entertainment has modernised the arcs of the main characters in its version, making Cindy Lou the daughter of a single mother who’s struggling to cope with all the stresses that parents typically have over the holiday season.
Similar in its difference to the original, the Grinch himself is not the feared monster that makes the people of Whoville shake in their boots, like before. He is merely a sad and lonely old man, no scarier than my occasionally grumpy grandad. While these contemporary story lines have moments of being not only adorable but also refreshing, they do also mean that there is little crossover between Cindy Lou and the Grinch until the end of the film.
The entire film, in my opinion, was more toned down than the millennial release. From the soundtrack – which features Frank Ocean but missed out on the hauntingly sweet, ‘Where Are You Christmas’- to the relationship between Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch.
Benedict Cumberbatch did a stellar job in his depiction of the Grinch but he had some big boots to fill and, just like the Grinch’s heart, this remake was two sizes too small.