Christmas is a time for giving and for showing appreciation for those you love. Unless you’re the Grinch, that is. He doesn’t love anyone — or doesn’t think he does. The approaching festive season can only mean one thing. It’s time for everyone’s favorite green meanie to return to theaters for another round of sparring with the Whos in Whoville.
Illumination’s THE GRINCH, set for release on November 9th, does something a bit different with the small-hearted green guy. It adds a few new things to the original story we know and love. With Benedict Cumberbatch in the mix as the voice of the Grinch, the esteemed animation company behind DESPICABLE ME and MINIONS has a winning new formula.
‘The Grinch’ For a New Generation
The story of the Grinch likely played a substantial role in your childhood. The animated ’60s special directed by cartoon master Chuck Jones has been a television staple for decades. There’s no reason to set that one aside, or to forget about your copy of the wonderful book by Dr. Seuss. But Illumination’s retelling has found some new avenues to explore.
This Grinch isn’t a super-bully — he might be more grumpy than outright mean. We spend a lot more time with him in a feature film than in the original 26-minute animated short. So Illumination and co-directors Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney envision their furry green anti-hero less as a monster than a dedicated sourpuss. He’s also perhaps smarter than the original Grinch. Just look at his home, as seen in trailers. How’d he build all that stuff?
A Modern Grump
So modern technology is part of the 2018 formula, and so is pop music. Rapper Tyler, the Creator provides some key music. He actually samples some of the classic tunes synonymous with the character, including ‘You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.’ So the songs are very much of today, but they have solid ties back to the version we love. The essence of the original story is still there.
There’s also a very 2018 aspect of Illuminations method of telling the story. Not just the CG animation, though with every hair on the Grinch lovingly rendered, it’s a spellbinding technical achievement. There’s also the fact that the studio has dropped in a host of easter eggs connected to its other films. So the DESPICABLE ME and MINIONS franchises are represented by moments featuring the Pharrell Williams song ‘Happy,’ and several other flourishes.
The Grinch’s tale will never grow old, because Dr. Seuss crafted the perfect holiday allegory. It’s got very human elements and spot-on lessons about the value of community and the importance of forgiveness.
This year’s THE GRINCH also has something that makes the character pretty relatable in 2018. From what we’ve seen so far he seems like a guy who is just tired of Christmas; maybe he’s got perfectly good reasons for wanting to keep the holiday at arm’s reach. Or maybe he thinks he does, and just needs the support of people around him to remember what the holiday is all about.
And maybe it’s not just the Grinch who gets an update in the new movie. The Whos down in Whoville, despite being more pure and loving than their furry neighbor, have some modern issues of their own to deal with. That could be the most significant new step in the movie — the Grinch and the Whos might be a little more alike than either would assume at first. So if this green meanie can allow his heart to grow, perhaps he’ll help the Whos as much as they do him. Peace and goodwill to all!
THE GRINCH rides a sleigh into theaters on November 9.