Illumination’s “The Grinch” Review

Karyna Hetman

Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” children’s picture book has sold 650 million copies worldwide, and the cartoon movie has been a classic holiday favorite for 53 years. Children and adults alike fell in love with the story of how the evil Grinch who hated Christmas had a change of heart and character after seeing the love shared by the people around. This past November 9, 2018, Illumination’s The Grinch came to theaters around the world. Director of The Grinch, Scott Mosier, in an interview about Dr. Seuss’ classic stories such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, said Dr. Seuss can “tap into universal ideas” and “put it into a story that is so joyful to read but also it resonates so loudly”. In my opinion, the new movie added onto the already great, classic story without changing too much to the story line.

We all know the Grinch from Dr. Seuss’ story as a sneering, green creature who lives with his dog, Max, in the lonely mountain-top cave that is his home. The Grinch hated the whole Christmas season and despised watching over Whoville as they prepared for the holiday. “No one quite knows the reason”, Dr. Seuss wrote in his storybook, as he thinks the biggest reason of all “may have been that his heart was two sizes too small”. Some may find this as a vague reasoning for why the Grinch is filled with so much hate, and this new Grinch movie gives a bit more insight into just why he is like this. The film showed Grinch as a young child growing up in a dreary orphanage, where he dreamed of a bright Christmas tree full of promise and lined with gifts, yet this stayed just a mere dream, as there was no celebration there. This was a perfect amount of closure for the viewers to wrap their minds around without disrupting the whole plot of the story to focus on Grinch’s backstory completely.

Reading the book by Dr. Seuss, a feeling of dislike and strong disapproval can be felt by the readers as the Grinch spoils all the Whos’ Christmases by ransacking the peaceful houses in the down, stealing all gifts and decorations. It is not until the end of the story where we feel a connection to the Grinch as he has a change of heart after seeing how the Whos’ still celebrate with their loved ones even without the gifts and food. In the new movie, however, you can feel sympathy for Grinch throughout the whole movie, and he is depicted less of a scary villain, and more of a regular individual with a reasonable attitude. In the beginning of the movie, the Grinch realizes he has somehow ran out of food even though he had been saving enough to last him until January. He announces that he has gone through all of his food so quickly because he had been drowning his sorrows and loneliness in the comfort of his favorite foods. This is a joke for the audience and helps us to feel empathy for him and his problems through humor. It also illustrates Grinch’s daily struggles with the holiday season, such as his alarm clock playing Christmas music too early, people putting up obnoxious decorations, and a rushed feeling all through the town. Through this, viewers can also relate to how the holiday’s can be a bit stressful at times, and helps us to understand why Grinch is so angry around the holiday season. The humor throughout the movie helps children to not be as afraid of the Grinch they once feared for stealing children’s gifts, and helps everyone alike to feel a sympathy for Grinch and even closely relate to him.

Lastly, The Grinch shows a closer look into the life of the sweet Cindy-Lou Who. In the book, Cindy-Lou wakes from her sleep the night before Christmas to find Grinch, who she mistook for Santa Clause. She catches him taking down the Christmas tree, and when she asks why he was doing so, he replied by saying there was a light that wasn’t working and that he would fix it in his shop and bring it back in time for the morning. The original story does not show much else of Cindy-Lou other than this interaction with Grinch. However, in the movie Cindy-Lou is one of the main characters and she has her own story-line. Cindy-Louh is shown as an obedient daughter to a single mother who is constantly busy juggling night shifts as a nurse and caring for Cindy-Lou and her little twin brothers. Since Cindy-Lou always sees her mom frazzled with work and responsibilities at home, she composes a note to Santa Claus asking to help her overburdened mother, unlike her other friends who ask for pets and toys. Unfortunately she has problems catching the mailman in time to send the letter, so she plans to meet Santa in person, by setting a trap for when he comes to deliver presents. In the original book she woke up to find the Grinch as she  “got out of bed for a cup of cold water”, whereas in this movie, she is anxiously awaiting Santa’s arrival so she can speak with him. With Cindy-Lou having a prominent part in the movie and having such heartwarming morals for the holiday season, it adds to the Christmas magic felt from this movie.

Illumination’s The Grinch will without a doubt be a family favorite this holiday season, and will be held as close to the heart as the original Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It was an uplifting and touching addition to the franchise as it got into deeper explanation and detail, adding a more heartfelt rendition without changing the story we all know and love from Dr. Seuss. I encourage families and friends of all ages to go see the movie this season to help remember what makes Christmas so special with the additional laugh from this comical and classic film.