Illumination, famous for the popular, Despicable Me franchise throws their hat into the ring this holiday season with a new adaptation of The Grinch, and it’s exactly what I expect from an Illumination film– nothing special, but interesting.
There are six major aspects of this film that I focus on when doing a review, these being: plot, characters, soundtrack, action, humor, and then I compare it to the original 1960s film, seeing how this film stays true.
However, this isn’t Illumination’s first Dr. Seuss adaptation, with their only other attempt being The Lorax in 2012, which was terribly received by audiences and critics alike.
The Grinch plot is extremely predictable, as it follows the same plot as the original film, with an extra side plot to pad out for time. The side plot follows Cindy-Lou, and her best friends in their quest to trap Santa Claus and give him a very special wish, which I find to be incredibly pointless by adding nothing to the overall message and themes of the film.
As for the characters, Benedict Cumberbatch does a rather good job portraying the Grinch character, but his performance suffers simply because of how they wrote out his personality in the film. They really make the Grinch feel more like an ordinary person, which disappoints me because in the original film the Grinch was portrayed as a bully, where he hated everything about Christmas. Whereas in this film, he’s just a regular person who is just generally annoyed by Christmas.
There are many side characters that purely existed for comic relief, such as the Grinch’s best friend Bricklebaum, who is very annoying. There are also Cindy-Lou’s best friends, who act like tiny gangsters, riding around on bicycles as if they were motorcycles, and holding candy canes in their mouths as if they were cigarettes. I personally do not understand why the writers even made that decision.
The only reason I can think of for this is just adding an extra bit of humor to the situation.
Overall, the side characters just seem to have this one blank character trait. Almost as if they were made with a cookie cutter, whether it be the hero, the funny side-kick, the wise old man, just to name a few. It causes them, and the rest of the residents of Whoville to feel exactly the same, which caused the film to suffer.
The soundtrack is very bland and forgettable, a new set of tracks done by famous rapper Tyler the Creator, and they really pull me away from the film. They are rather distracting and do not really fit the scenes they play during.
For the few action scenes from the movie, they take advantage of Dr. Seuss’s signature world building style, every little aspect of his style its so unique it allows for so many different possibilities for how the characters interact with the environment. This allows for some extremely well-choreographed scenes.
Excluding the crude children’s humor, interesting visual gags actually made me chuckle a few times. The creators really take advantage of the surroundings of the characters to create some pretty funny moments.
In comparison to the original 1960s film, I believe it holds up rather well and follows exactly the same plot as the original excluding all of the added plot filler. The only other significant change is the Grinch character, which I feel is a negative change.
Overall, I think it is a decent film. In some areas, the film is really strong, and those leave me with an overall positive outlook, but in other areas of the film, it falls rather short simply because certain parts did not contribute anything to the film.
My final rating is a 4/10 because it’s an enjoyable experience for children but nothing really worthy of seeing for an older audience.