A familiar tale of a Christmas-hating Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) determined to quiet the carols and steal the holiday spirit from Whoville.
Meanwhile, Cindy Lou-Who (Cameron Seely) and her rag-tag group of friends devise a plan to grant her an audience with Santa Claus.
The Grinch, disguised as Santa Claus, unleashes a new brand of trickery to steal Christmas from the quiet little town before dropping down the chimney of Cindy Lou-Who and her family. Cindy Lou-Who asks the Grinch to grant a special Christmas wish and shows him there is more to the holiday than gifts and greed.
WHAT I LIKED
The Grinch had all the familiarity of its predecessors, but the development of the Cindy Lou-Who character added an extra layer of interest. Instead of being a pouty-eyed, innocent girl; Cindy Lou-Who is an adventurous daredevil that doesn’t take “No” for an answer. She has her own motives on Christmas Eve which makes her encounter with the Grinch even more meaningful.
The backstory of the Grinch is explored a bit, but not in a way that veers the story off its path. His reasons for hating the holidays become relatable, or at the least understandable.
Tertiary characters also added some color to an already colorful world. Mr. Brickelbaum (Kenan Thompson) was a comedic highlight among the supporting cast, and Donna Who (Rashida Jones) was a character many can identify with.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN IMPROVED
Competing with the iconic music of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is an uphill task, but the choices made for this film’s soundtrack tried too hard to reinvent the wheel.
Luckily there were not an abundance of grand musical pieces stuffed into this stocking. Tyler, The Creator’s version of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” accompanied most of the promotional material and headlined one of the film’s montages. Perhaps something less jolting such as a rendition by John Legend or Lady Gaga would have played better. In the end, less is more here.
The Grinch is a fresh, yet familiar, film that should highlight this holiday season’s movie slate. It pays appropriate homage to its predecessors while bringing something new to the table.
The pace was quick and the characters felt fully realized. In a theatre full of children everyone was tuned in.
Review by Joe Fisher, Back Lot 605 Contributing Writer