Get ready, because I am about to get my Seuss on!
The holidays are finally underway here in New York City,
And the movies out now range from dark to witty.
One can see Lisabeth Salander taking on a new case.
Or look at gay conversion therapy in Boy Erased.
From Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic of Queen
To all the horror films left over from Halloween.
But I am not here to talk about any of those mentioned above,
For I am talking about the Grinch, based on a Dr. Suess story we all love
So for those you who, unlike Cindy-Lou Who, are more than two,
Let me take a moment to recap the original story to you.
The Grinch is a grouchy individual who lives all alone
In a cave far above Whoville, with Max, a dog of his own.
They spend every day inside thinking of something to do
While trying, at any cost, to avoid the Whos.
For a reason that even the narrator doesn’t seem to know,
The Grinch hates Christmas with a passion, so.
When the Whos prepare for their annual Christmas holiday
The Grinch forms a plan to steal their merriment away.
This is not the only time the Seuss story has been adapted, first off.
We, of course, have the beloved 1964 special featuring the voice of Boris Karloff.
It was adapted again in 2000 as a feature film starring Jim Carrey.
And this one felt mean-spirited and the Whos themselves looked kind of scary.
But I walked into this film with no expectations — a clean slate
To judge it on its own , whether it be bad or great.
But when the film ended, I did not feel either extreme,
For my feelings were sort of somewhere in-between.
I didn’t love the film, but it wasn’t the worst.
And I’ll explain why with the voice-acting first.
Benedict Cumberbatch as the Grinch seems like a fine enough choice,
But his delicate delivery suggests maybe he needed a throatier voice.
The other voices in the film are good for what is required.
Though maybe we shouldn’t be recognizing the celebrities the studio hired.
The voice for the mayor of Whoville, if you can connect the dots,
Will make you say to your fellow audience member “That’s Mrs. Potts!”
The one voice that does manage to outshine the rest
Is that of Kenan Thompson, who acts in his Christmassy best!
Now one criticism of Dr. Suess films that many people seem to share
Are the pop-culture references that pop up everywhere.
I didn’t find too many in this Grinch film that I could count,
But modern dialogue does appear in an alarming amount.
Pharrell Williams just doesn’t have the right voice to narrate this story
He tries to sound cool and hip and leaves no room for any allegory.
I give the film credit for keeping itself from being rhymeless
But the mentioning of video games keeps the story from being timeless.
There is also one scene that I took down in my notes
Where Cindy Lou dresses up in metal goggles and a dozen coats.
One thing I must say Illumination if you can stand to hear my opinions:
Did you not think I would recognize that reference to Minions?
Now you are probably thinking, didn’t Jake say this movie was okay?
Yes it is, even though my criticisms seem to dismay.
So what is it about the film that prevents it from being a wreck?
Well, its spirit is high and cheery without any nastiness, not one little speck.
The Whos in the Carrey version were nasty and hateful,
But the Whos in this film are pleasant and quite grateful.
They are kind to and understanding of everyone that they see
And help make Whoville a pleasant and kind place to be.
Also, a good holiday film has visuals that are bright, colorful and clear
And thankfully, there are plenty of good visuals to be found here.
Whoville looks gorgeous, and is very well designed,
And none of the Christmas lights are bright enough to blind.
The colors are vibrant; the glowing light makes it feel warm,
And the snow looks so detailed when it gets into form.
It looks like something out of The Santa Clause or The Polar Express
Not completely perfect, but quite a success!
Of course, when adapting a short story, you have to make changes,
And the quality of the ones made in this film ranges.
Some of them I liked, like the focus on Cindy Lou’s family and friends
And the interesting route the story takes when it ends.
Some of them I didn’t like, like the updated Grinch theme,
or a running gag involving a goat who can scream.
These things are not awful, just a bit unnecessary.
It could also use a bit more humor, possibly from Jim Carrey.
Also, since they decided to give the Grinch some backstory again,
Why couldn’t they have shown how he met Max, his canine friend?
They missed that opportunity in the Carrey film before,
And now I am left sitting here begging for more.
But that is just a pet (ahem) peeve of mine,
As well as another excuse for me to whine.
Despite padding out the story, the film keeps its message intact,
Which makes it worth the price of admission, and that is a fact!
In the end, The Grinch is as decent as one would expect
And it is much better than the trailer the last time I checked.
Could Grinch have been more mean and the jokes more funny?
Yes, and yes, but the film’s message is strong and sweet as honey.
The Grinch in me would say this is enough to stay away,
But personally, I’ll take a good heart over a load of laughs, any day.