Review: Dr. Seussˈ The Grinch

Can the cartoon adaptation of The Grinch compete with the classic? Julia Hoepfner discusses

Julia Hoepfner
10th December 2018
Image: Youtube

The festive season is in full swing and this year it is green! The Grinch is back: However, this year´s adaptation of Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel´s children´s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas fails to live up to its predecessor´s legacy.

The story is well-known: The Grinch lives a secluded life nearby the village Whoville, whose citizens are obsessed with Christmas. Disgusted by their massive preparations for the holiday, the Grinch decides to steal it. So far, the material has been adapted three times. In 1966, Boris Karloff lent his voice to the grumpy protagonist for a television special, which also established the character´s colour as green and Jim Carrey slipped into the hairy green costume in Ron Howard´s live-action film in 2000. Considering that the last adaptation was 18 years ago, one may argue that it was time for a new take on the material. However, this comedy is clearly catered for a very young audience and it lacks the substance to become an evergreen.

This new version of The Grinch does not convince, at least not for adults

The film is 3D computer-animated and the quality of the animation is excellent, no wonder since the movie has been produced by the animation company Illumination, who is also responsible for the Despicable Me franchise. Unfortunately, the great technical realization does not divert from the film´s shortcomings. The characters are simplistic, the storyline is foreseeable and the big laugh fails to appear in this slapstick comedy.

In terms of sound, The Grinch combines traditional and new elements. The voiceover of a narrator, spoken by Pharrell Williams, frames the narrative and rhymes, what refers back to the original book. Also, the film includes rap music of Tyler, the Creator, who wrote multiple original songs for the movie, what gives it a modern twist. This contrasts the rest of the film´s soundtrack, which consists of remixed classical Christmas songs and lots of choral singing.

Overall, this new version of The Grinch does not convince, at least not for adults. For children it is a nice visualisation that one cannot buy Christmas, but it is unlikely that this adaptation will gain the cult status of a Christmas classic

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