The Grinch movie review: A pretty looking but oddly timed film, with not a single throwaway chuckle

Mihir Fadnavis

November 09, 2018 10:23:50 IST

2/5

If you’ve seen the 2000 Jim Carrey film, there’s nothing new that you’ll find in this animated remake of The Grinch. This is a pretty looking but oddly timed film that neither makes a lasting dramatic impression nor renders a single throwaway chuckle that you expect in a comedy. Very young children might be distracted by the lights and sounds, but that’s barely a reason to head to the theatres considering the quality of kid distractions you find online nowadays.

Youtube screengrab from the trailer of The Grinch.

Youtube screengrab from the trailer of The Grinch.

The story beats remain exactly the same as the Seuss book and the earlier film adaptations – everyone in the town of Whoville is preparing for Christmas, and this year is panning out to be the biggest celebration in history. This does not bode well with the Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch with predictable sardonic depth) who lives in the nearby mountain and despises Christmas for unknown reasons. Angry and incapable of coming up with any other plan to deal with the situation, the Grinch decides to sabotage the town’s Christmas by pretending to be Santa Claus and stealing all the décor.

The problem here is the faithfulness to the source material, which is fine when it comes down to paying respect to Dr Seuss, but not offering anything new except for animated versions of the exact same story and comedy beats is disappointing. We’ve seen the physical comedy, the comically evil facial expressions, and the goofy camaraderie between the Grinch and his reindeers already – and oddly, those things work much better in live action because of the over the top-ness of those elements set in a real world. Deploying those elements in an animated world does not have the same impact because of the level of the suspension of disbelief; an animated world after all has rules that can be bent more easily and your acceptance of and reaction to bizarre things in a cartoon-y environment is bound to be more muted as opposed to strange stuff taking place in the ‘real’ world.

Moreover, the lesson that the film offers is something that seems hackneyed now. The story is after all a metaphor for the grumpy old man in every neighborhood who hates everyone else having fun just because he’s lonely. These values were newly relevant in the '50s when this book was originally written, but animated films have come very far in terms of exploring contemporary real world issues – last month’s Smallfoot, which was also set in a snowy environment tackled things like religion and societal acceptance – so the ‘message’ that this film sends is outdated and renders little impact.

That said, this is a harmless film and at a run-time of just 80 minutes, it breezes by anchored by its kinetic energy. And if you like Pharrell, you’ll find comfort in his voice as the narrator, even though none of the side characters, or even the Grinch himself is noteworthy in any big way. If you’re looking for a more interesting old-timey Christmas based movie, you’re better off firing up the DVD of Robert Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol instead.

Updated Date: Nov 09, 2018 10:26 AM