After having both an animated short and a live-action film adaptation, it wasn’t long before Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas received an animated film adaptation. Is this version from Illumination Entertainment the best of the three? Well, here are my thoughts. Caution: Some spoilers below!
The film follows pretty much the same plot as the book. In the town of Whoville, the happy, jovial Whos are all getting ready for the Christmas season. But, high above on a mountain further away from Whovilles lives a grouchy, green grump known as The Grinch, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. He hates Christmas and the Whos and spends most of his time complaining about both while hanging out with his dog, Max. It’s not long before he comes up with an idea, an awful idea, he comes up with a wonderful, awful idea: why not steal Christmas from the Whos?
In a nutshell, that’s the story and that leads us to the first problem with this film. Since the story is overall short, stretching it to last for an hour and a half just leads itself to a lot of padding. For example, we get some scenes with a reindeer named Fred who is honestly pointless as he disappears in the middle of the movie only to reappear in the end as a deus ex machina. We also get a typical extremely brief Scrooge-like backstory for The Grinch wherein we learn he was an orphan who wasn’t ever visited by anyone on Christmas. It really doesn’t add much to the story to know why The Grinch hates Christmas as it’s shown extremely briefly!
Also in this version, there are many scenes where The Grinch visits Whoville quite a bit to take care of errands like grocery shopping that it just seems odd how “familiar” he is with the Who population.
Not everything about this adaptation is bad though. One of the young Whos, Cindy Lou Who, voiced by Cameron Seely, has an expanded role. She is a determined young girl who only wants one thing for Christmas: that her hardworking mother, Donna Lou Who, voiced by Rashida Jones, is happy. In order to make sure that this happens, Cindy gets the idea to trap Santa Claus.
But, back to the complaints! I also hate how Benedict Cumberbatch gives The Grinch a weird American accent. Apparently, it was his idea as he surmised that since all the Whos have American accents, then The Grinch should have one too. A fair enough argument, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the reason why the filmmakers hired him for the role! You don’t hire Benedict Cumberbatch to NOT hear Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice! It’s like hiring Michael Caine to do a Texan accent or Sean Connery to do a Canadian accent; it’s not what you would pay money for!
And there’s also a character known as Bricklebaum, voiced by Kenan Thompson. He’s probably the merriest Who ever and was I the only one expecting this guy to actually be Santa Claus in disguise? I mean, he mentions he uses hair coloring to dye his hair (AND BEARD) brown, he has his own personal sleigh, and he’s always merry!
Were there other things I enjoyed? I mean, yeah I enjoyed Angela Lansbury’s extremely brief voice cameo as the mayor of Whoville. And I have no complaints to make about the animation, but other than that, this is a mostly boring and padded version of the story. I think the animated 1966 short is still the best adaptation of this tale! Hopefully Warner Animation Group won’t disappoint us with their upcoming animated adaptation of The Cat in the Hat.