The Grinch, the new animated movie featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of Grinch, is better than the Jim Carrey version from 2000. It should be stated right off the bat that the 2000 live-action version, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, starring Carrey in the central role and directed by Ron Howard, is by no means bad. In fact, over the years it's become something of a cult classic; a holiday tradition in homes around the world. But the new animated version from Illumination Entertainment, directed by Yarrow Cheney (The Lorax, Despicable Me 2) and Scott Mosier (in his feature movie directorial debut), has that rare ability to appeal to the entire family, and they deliver a movie that's enjoyable, heartwarming, and a whole heap of fun.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas - the book - was written by Dr. Seuss and first published in 1957. The book's underlying aim was to criticize the commercialization of Christmas, something that is even more prevalent in 2018. It tells the story of the cave-dwelling Mr. Grinch, a mean, nasty, and cantankerous creature whose heart is two sizes too small. Fed up of hearing the Christmas festivities taking place in Whoville, he decides to steal Christmas, disguising himself as Santa, and his dog, Max, as a Reindeer. He then sneaks around Whoville in the dead of night and takes every decoration and present. Undeterred, the people of Whoville still gather to sing a happy Christmas song, since Christmas is something that takes place in our hearts. Upon hearing this, the Grinch's heart then fills with love, and he returns all the presents before being invited to the Whoville Christmas lunch.
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How The Two Grinch Movies Differ
Both the 2000 Howard version and the 2018 animated version follow the same premise, but both have padded the story out in order to make it into a feature-length film. Arguably, the animated movie tells a more simplistic story, with flashbacks to the Grinch's time alone in an orphanage enough for the very young target audience to realize that's why he doesn't like Christmas. It's easy to understand, and gives more time to focus on the story in hand, whereas Howard rather painstakingly tells of Grinch reluctantly saving the life of Cindy-Lou, who then becomes interested in his backstory, discovering he was adopted by two elderly sisters, and badly bullied at school by the Who who went on to become town mayor.
The extended backstory in How The Grinch Stole Christmas is interesting, but the movie takes a while to get going, and the more complex nature of the Grinch's past means that very young children (ages 4-7) begin to get restless and tune out. By contrast, The Grinch gives enough time to the backstory to make it relevant, but it doesn't dwell there. Instead, there's more time spent on moments such as Grinch and Max trying to locate a reindeer, or Max diligently preparing his master's breakfast each day. These moments are easy to watch, fun to see, and completely engaging for younger viewers, who laugh out loud at some of the sillier stuff. For adults, that might mean the movie has a little less substance, but who was the book written for in the first place?
Another stark difference between the two is the color palette. How The Grinch Stole Christmas is darker, both visually and in its story, whereas The Grinch is bright and bubbly in its tone. In part, that's down to animators being able to heighten and intensify the colors in production, but both movies send a clear message; one aims to have that bleaker, more adult edge to it, while the other is out to bring happiness to the masses. The central character, the eponymous Grinch, is adorable in The Grinch, while he's jaded and rather unappealing in How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas also contains more music, which is more prominently featured. That's not to say The Grinch doesn't have a fun and enjoyable soundtrack though, because it certainly does. It's just more based in Christmas classics; there's an especially fun rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," performed by the Whoville choir (and Pentatonix on the soundtrack). Both movies draw on songs used in the original 1966 animated TV special. Both movies also feature a narrator, but while Howard's version features Anthony Hopkins in the role, The Grinch has Pharell Williams. Known to millions of kids as the man who sang "Happy," recruiting him once again was a real coup for Illumination.
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- The Grinch (2018) release date: Nov 09, 2018