By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Although there have been Hollywood adaptations of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel’s beloved character, the Grinch, the bar was set high with the 1966 television cartoon “How the Grinch Stole Christmas." That instant classic was directed by Chuck Jones and featured the unmistakable voice of Boris Karloff.
Now, along comes “The Grinch,”
a slightly re-imagined animated movie version from directors Yarrow Cheney (“The Secret Life of Pets”) and Scott Mosier (“Clerks”).
While “The Grinch” doesn’t come close to the original—then again, no remake can—it’s still a bright, spunky holiday tale that should delight little ones.
“The Grinch,” which is based on the 69-page Dr. Seuss storybook and which continues to delight generations of kids, is padded a bit to fill out the film’s 90 minutes run time.
It involves a few new characters, but most surprisingly, a backstory from screenwriters Michael LeSieur (“Keeping Up with the Joneses”) and Tommy Swerdlow (“A Thousand Junkies”) that has the bright green, furry and hairy, pot-belly Grinch getting in touch with his softer side.
(Upcoming “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle”) voices the less grumpy Grinch with panache and an ample dose of mischievousness. Musician Pharrell Williams doesn’t miss a beat either hip-hopping and rhyming his way through the film’s narration.
The Grinch lives with his faithful dog Max perched above Who-ville in a tricked-out cave on Mount Crumpet. He has a good-natured neighbor named Mr. Bricklebaum (a funny Kenan Thompson, TV’s “SNL”).
Yeah, it’s Christmastime, but the Grinch has no room in his heart—which is two sizes too small by the way—for such foolishness. The Grinch prefers spending time by himself, playing “All by Myself” on his oversized organ.
When he does go out, it’s to the “Who Foods Market.” Did you catch that? There are fun nuggets like that scattered throughout the film. Some will likely go over the heads of most kids, but will bring a smile to their parents faces.
Mr. Grinch is hardly friendly and refuses to help anyone especially when he’s among the public. He also scares kids and other pre-teens like Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely, “The Greatest Showman”).
Cindy-Lou Who has only one big wish for Santa this year. She hates that her single, mother Donna Who (Rashida Jones, TV’s “Angie Tribeca” and “Black-ish”) works so hard and rarely has time to do anything nice for herself. Her plan: Capture Santa Claus so she can ask him directly to make her mom’s life a little less hectic. She goes to elaborate lengths to get the jolly old man.
While everyone in Whoville—including the Mayor (Angela Lansbury) is gearing up for Santa’s big scene by singing, cooking, decorating and just having fun, Grinch wants to put an end to all that happiness. He concocts a plan to masquerade as Santa, burst into every home and steal all the pretty presents.
What The Grinch doesn’t count on is having his heart opened and warmed by little Cindy and perhaps learning the real reason for the Christmas season.
For the most part, everything about “The Grinch” is harmless and innocent. Kids will also enjoy the sight gags involving The Grinch’s reindeer, Fred and a crazy goat.
And while the movie features such Christmas gems as The Supremes' “My Favorite Things,” the Jackson Five’s “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” and Nat King Cole (“The Christmas Song”), the cut “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” from rapper Tyler, the Creator stands out but not in a good way. It’s just a bad fit to say the least.
Fortunately, Max the dog, Cindy-Lou Who and the Grinch shine as bright as the film’s gorgeously rendered animation and is what makes “The Grinch” a nice little holiday present.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
Check Out This Trailer For "THE GRINCH"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.