The Christmas story has been formulated so many times that many seem indistinguishable from each other. However, Dr. Seuss, being the poetic genius that he was, provided us with a new spin to the popular holiday with his How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The Grinch is the latest adaptation from the children’s book to reach our screens. Mr. Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a Scrooge-like, anti-Christmas, green and hairy creature who lives just outside Who-ville. Who-ville is a cheery village that celebrates Christmas merrily, and in his annoyance with their preparations, the Grinch devises a plan to ruin their Christmas.
Given the promotional material seen for this film, it was much better than I expected. The story chooses to have voice-over at parts with Dr. Seuss’ writing being narrated by Pharrell Williams; this infuses part of the book’s magic. The deviations from the source material are as can be expected (the studio does have to make a short story into a full-length movie) with classic clichéd tropes of children’s films. Thankfully, the filmmakers do restrain from taking too much liberty away from the original book, delivering a fairly short and sweet film.
A sub-plot of a little girl (Cameron Seely) who asks Santa to help her single-mom (Rashida Jones) be happy is touching, and adds a progressive perspective in this new era of long overdue feminism. The resolution in the film, while cheesy, doesn’t seem irrational or to come out of nowhere, with the filmmakers lowering us smoothly to a warm and sweet end.
The result is a charming animated film that manages to hold on to more of Dr. Seuss’ magic and poetry than can be expected. While filled with clichéd tropes and silly comedy for kids, the final product is a nice preparation for getting into the holiday spirit.