The Grinch (2018) is another generation’s interpretation of the classic Dr Seuss tale, this time bringing it into the world of CG animation via, sigh, Illumination Entertainment.
Benedict Cumberbatch takes his own crack at the lead role and as always, he has big shoes to fill. He does it competently but certainly not iconically, while also surrounded by a supporting cast of other great voices (including the always welcomed Kenan Thompson)
That problem with Cumberbatch translates to the rest of the film. Competent, but not iconic. Which is hard in the world of Christmas movies, but is a shame in the world of Grinch adaptations. Though that is combatting the classic cartoon with Boris Karloff and the ode to make-up that is the live-action movie with Jim Carrey.
The Grinch just lacks something about it. Thankfully it’s not a prequel as the first poster threatened, but there is some origin hinted at that is one of many moments that needlessly build on the original formula.
Inclusions and homages to the classics work. Every now and again you get the Seussian prose that puts you in the right place, and you get music that takes you back, but once again, it doesn’t quite have iconography to hold you. You’re blinded by nostalgia and the trap that is Christmas.
Make no mistake, much like The Grinch you’ll be blinded by how Christmas is nailed from its sight and sound. Emotionally you’ll be hit by it, but taking a step back it’s just the classic Christmas cheer and ideology that’s holding you.
The film’s not bad, The Grinch does well in its medium here, the animation is your usual kid-friendly slapstick fare and has a bunch of visual jokes (that don’t always hit, like a 3-scene joke with a goat that doesn’t land at all) and to a degree looks great, though my viewing was in standard 2D and nothing fancy so I didn’t take in the full extent of it all.
It’s crime is the usual crime of movies at the moment - the crime of mediocrity. Too many movies I could give that stamp to, but The Grinch is a middle of the road film with a few blips of greatness but for the most part it’s purely just a cheaper imitator.
Do not pass up the previous versions for this one, not rush out to add it to the Christmas rotation. There are dozens better Christmas movies to watch, the majority of which are not CG, and the best of which probably has Muppets in.