By Andrew Jenck
Welcome to A Very Drew Holiday Feature of this green, iconic creature. A film that is anything but sublime and yes, this review will be entirely in rhyme. I’m of course talking about the new Grinch, a film that is quite sanitized. If Polar Express is a victim of over ambition, this one is on the opposite spectrum: only putting in the bare minimum.
Coming from the most sanitized, unambitious studio today is Illumination. They have a habit of filling their bare bone stories with padding and with such little effort; their box office successes are saddening. On top of that, they never stand out from any other animation. Blatantly described in their statement of mission, their goal is to make films as cheaply as possible, which explains their lack of fruition in attempt of story additions.
A glaring notice of Illuminitions’ tampering comes down to the Grinch’s design himself. Gone are his eyes of apple red, his wrinkles, and his terrifying grin plastered on his head, and more often has the ferociousness of sprinkles. Dealing with an antagonist as a protagonist for 90 minutes is a challenging task, but all they do is remove the edge that made him compelling. He’s less of a Grinch and more a Grump. He’s nice to his dog Max, pranks before his big theft are his only worst acts, and the real reason he hates Christmas is because it gives him PTSD. No really.
Flash tree lights in his face, and he harkens back to his days when no one wanted him as a child, why I’m really not sure. The film never really explains, and it’s quite absurd. A better angle as the film did hint was that he only saw the holiday’s superficialities and was too shortsighted of its specialties. That’s another thing: everything feels underdeveloped and rather lackluster. Themes of loneliness, a busy single mother, importance of family, and being swayed by a little girl are all present in this manipulative blockbuster.
Also, for the role of the narrator, how do you go from Boris Karloff and Anthony Hopkins, who have clear parallels to the likes of Williams, Pharrell? It’s funny how the words Christmas, stole and how are not in the title yet this goes into the most planning out of all the renditions. Nevertheless, such planning is only padding as with Cindy’s backstory anyhow. At this point, it’s a Seuss movie tradition.
Including elements from the source proves to be a hindrance, how ironic. They still have a modernized version of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” but do not match this not-so-Grinch neurotic. There are no termites in his smile, he has pearly white teeth; they missed that point by a mile. To be fair, some elements are well translated, particularly how Whoville is animated. Harkens to Seuss’ illustrations but still feels distinct, and by gosh do its reds and greens glow. All the Christmas elements matched with the snow give great scenery in sync. Humor-wise, there’s nothing more than a few smirks, but it’s at least higher brow than the live action film’s needless adult quirks.
Perhaps the most disappointing element of all is that this film is forgettable tolerable for both the tall and the small. Kids will most likely enjoy it and be convinced it’s a classic when they go through adolescence, but what’s so great about a bad film that’s oh so adequate? That is Illumination’s essence. Make films watchable, so critics and parents will give them a pass, but I, Mr. Jenck am not so crass. A 59.9 for you, you Minion-producing hacks, bare minimum is still failing; no excuse, especially when you are adapting the likes of Dr. Seuss.