The popular Christmas story by Dr. Seuss gets a new animated adaptation in The Grinch. The Whos in the town of Whoville like Christmas a whole lot, much to the annoyance of The Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch), who would rather stay home alone with his dog Max. Finally getting fed up with all the cheer, The Grinch decides to come up with a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos. Meanwhile, Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely) comes up with a plan to capture Santa on Christmas Eve, so she could wish a happier life for her overworked mother Donna (Rashida Jones).
From Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment comes this new animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ popular story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which was previously made as a 1966 television special starring Boris Karloff and a 2000 live action film directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey. This new animated telling takes many liberties with the original story, including the addition of new characters, such as the always joyful Who Bricklebaum (Kenan Thompson) and a fat reindeer named Fred, with Pharrell Williams providing the narration.
As someone who grew up watching the original animated special, that 1966 cartoon directed by Chuck Jones and voiced by Boris Karloff will always be the point of comparison when discussing any additional adaptations of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. While the 2000 live action film expanded the story to fill a feature length, I still thought that Ron Howard was still attempting to maintain the charm of the animated special. On the other hand, this new animated version of The Grinch seems heavily influenced by Illumination’s Despicable Me franchise, as The Grinch utilizes a number of gadgets in his plan to steal Christmas. Benedict Cumberbatch is almost completely unrecognizable with his voice for The Grinch, though he is joined by the more recognizable voices of Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, and a brief cameo by Angela Lansbury as the Mayor of Whoville.
While generally an entertaining film, I wasn’t the biggest fan of how the story has been modernized somewhat, including the character of Cindy Lou Who being re-characterized, from a cute and innocent girl who stumbled onto The Grinch, to an almost mischievous child, who is planning with her friends to capture Santa, just so she can make a last second Christmas wish. Even the signature song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” is redone as a hip-hop track.
Ultimately, my criticisms about The Grinch are more nitpicking than anything else and this is still a film that the kids will likely enjoy.