To be completely honest, I’m one of the few who was unsure why we needed another version of this story to be made. In fact, I know some people who think that we never needed the Ron Howard version. I vividly remember seeing that version in the cinema with a cousin and my uncle. For this reason, the film is entangled with my childhood. I don’t really think the film entirely has dated well, but after watching it again on the big screen a few years back, I still enjoyed it fairly well. So once again, I’m not sure why Illumination needed to make their own version. And that they had to find a way to make it stand out than Howard’s.
The truth is it’s tough to make it stand on its own because of the other two versions are very faithful to the original story, and they’re both entangled in other lives. But for the newer generation who hasn’t seen the films, then they can enjoy the film on its own. Frankly, Jim Carrey will always be Grinch for me, the way he took that role and made it his own, and having him be both sweet but intimidating was perfection. Benedict Cumberbatch, while a great actor, is not the same, but thankfully he makes it his own.
This film is a lot sweeter than the other versions, it doesn’t hide away some of the secrets for twists and turns. It very quickly shows his past about how he came from a orphanage and was left alone for the holidays. He has an appreciation for Max (his lovely dog) and always treated him well.
The film shares as much as time with Cindy Lou as it does Grinch, and that’s how it should be. It is the adorableness of her character that elevates the film. She spends the entirety of the film looking for a way to meet Santa so she can ask him for help for her mother. Donna Lou Who (Rashida Jones) is a single mother who works overnights and takes care of Cindy and her twin brothers during the day. And Cindy has noticed the toll it’s taken on her mother. That aspect is sweet and very relatable.
The story other than that is simple as Pharell Williams narrates the film, not adding or detracting from the film. The soundtrack from Tyler, The Creator is a very unique choice and the Brockhampton needle drop is even stranger, but this is the life when Hip Hop becomes the most popular genre of music. It’s a sweet and enjoyable film but makes me more intrigued to revisit the Ron Howard more than anything, but would very much work for children you haven’t seen either previous version.
Also, Max is the best thing about the film, and he thankfully gets the spotlight in one of the “Mini Movies” (read: short films). The physical copy comes with many bonus features, including three mini movies, one of which being The Dog Days of Winter. It’s very simplistic, Grinch comes down with a cold and Max needs to go into town to buy more tea for him as they ran out in their home. At the same time, there’s a storm entering Whoville. He gets back in time, Grinch seems to get better and it ends with Max sneezing implying he’s now sick.
The other two short films rely more so on the “lore” of the Minions, if there is such a thing. One is Santa’s Little Helpers where they are accidentally find themselves in the North Pole very close to Christmas, so they do what any minion would attempt, to try and become an elf. Chaos ensues, and it’s kind of a blast to watch them do so. Yellow is the New Black is the other short film they appear in and according to the summary, this takes place prior to Despicable Me 3 where they once again, accidentally are thrust into the middle of a prison break. Cinematic and the only short that has a bit of a story even if it’s base-level simple, as would be expected with Minions.
The short films are appreciated on a physical release, as are the rest of the special features that come with the discs. Considering that as how some home releases are being brought out with minimal special features, it’s always a joy to see one cover the makings of and extras like this.
The Grinch on Sale Feb 5th