In the animated remake of the Christmas classic THE GRINCH Comedian icon Otto Waalkes lends his voice to the green fellow. We’ll reveal in our review whether that was a good decision and whether the film turned out well overall.
The Plot Summary
The Grinch is a green-haired, cynical grouch who lives in a dreary cave high above the cheerful village of Whoville and detests nothing more than the villagers’ exuberant Christmas celebrations. Nothing and no one is safe from the whims of the grumpy curmudgeon, only his loyal dog Max stays with him through thick and thin; remains loyal to him. When the festival of love is just around the corner again, the Grinch comes up with a plan that is as absurd as it is ingenious: he will steal Christmas! But he doesn’t count on little Cindy-Lou, who has it in her head to catch Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve rounds to thank him for the support of her overworked mother. As Christmas Eve approaches, their good intentions threaten to collide with the Grinch’s infamous plan…
Movie explanation of the ending
What the USAs have “Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella” or “The Little Lord” is what the Americans have “The Grinch”: Every year around Christmas time, television stations in the United States broadcast film adaptations of the famous Dr. Seuss novel in which the Children’s book author and comic artist criticizes consumer society in his own unique way. And over sixty years after the publication of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” it is more relevant than ever – we just have to look at the events that took place this year during the so-called Black Friday have occurred. It has now been 18 years since the last screen adaptation of the material. Ron Howard’s live-action film, for which Hollywood star Jim Carrey took on the role of the green-skinned curmudgeon, ensured that a broad audience in this country came into contact with the story for the first time; in United Kingdom are Dr. Seuss’ works such as “The Lorax”, “A Hangover Makes Theater” and “Horton Hears a Who” are much less popular than in the USA. Now that we also know the Christmas-hating fellow, it shouldn’t be difficult for the animation film company Illumination, which has experienced one high after another in recent years, to bring its “Grinch” vision to the people.
The Grinch (Otto Waalkes/Benedict Cumberbatch) and his loyal dog Max playing chess together.
The people behind “Pets” and “Despicable Me” tell the story according to the usual family film formula and present a Christmas comedy for the whole family, which, however, sorely lacks the rough edges of the original. In this case, the choice of who is allowed to lend his voice to the main character gives a lot of insight into how the 2018 “Grinch” is designed: comedy legend Otto Waalkes (“Ice Age”) specializes in comedy roles. Even his dubbing engagements do not break out of this typecasting. While in the original it was Benedict Cumberbatch (“Dr Strange”) makes every effort to counteract the unfortunately rather banal script, Waalkes’ work, which is undoubtedly good but also focuses exclusively on the comedy aspect of the character, deprives the original of any tonal variance. While even Jim Carrey sometimes made his Grinch really evil back then, so that the film could have been a bit too scary for very young viewers, the new Grinch is actually a really funny guy even when he gives free rein to his hatred for Christmas leaves. Of course, there is also a moment in the new “The Grinch” film adaptation that explains why the character holds such a grudge. It’s actually really emotional, but at no point does it turn the protagonist into such an ambivalent character as the original suggests. So it is only the rhyming voice-over (originally by Pharrell Williams) that transfers at least part of the book charm from the original to the screen.
Without having gotten to know the Grinch as a dark fellow, “The Grinch” noticeably lacks emotional depth. The viewer undoubtedly realizes the character’s dislike of Christmas, but his attempt to make things really difficult for the Whoville residents focuses solely on harmless pranking. This is where “The Grinch” scores points: Directors Yarrow Cheney (co-director of “Pets”) and Scott Mosier (author of “Free Birds – Eat Us Another Day!”) have fully embraced the comedy nature of their film internalized and present “The Grinch” as a crisp comedy whose gags and punchlines focus primarily on gross motor slapstick, which both the Grinch and his cute sidekicks perform with reliable regularity. Whether it’s the dog Max, who always sticks by his master (who, by the way, we hope would appear in the next “Pets” film), or the cuddly, lovable reindeer, which he can only recruit for his destructive operation because it just couldn’t run away fast enough: “The Grinch” is full of cute four-legged and two-legged characters who do their part to make the film remarkably entertaining. Even if you’re missing the narrative depth here, you’ll still get enough entertainment, at least on a superficial level; This means that the 2018 “Grinch” is aimed primarily at very young viewers who will definitely enjoy it – even if they of course don’t get the consumer criticism of the original.
Little Cindy-Lou has a secret, which is why she absolutely has to meet Santa Claus in person…
Parallel to the preparations for the Grinch’s destruction of Christmas, the film tells the story of little Cindy-Lou: Her reasons for wanting to meet Santa Claus are not only sweet but, without giving too much away, really contemporary. But unfortunately they are just a side note of a subplot that is told in a rather casual way. It is only when Cindy and the Grinch meet in the finale that the story’s narrative dimensions (and ambitions) are revealed, which find a perfect conclusion in a sumptuous Christmas dinner. From an animation perspective, the Christmas table presented here is representative of the quality that “The Grinch” can demonstrate on a technical level. Of course, a small snow-covered village with sparkles, lights and glitters in every nook and cranny is a great opportunity to let off steam as a trick technician. And that’s what those responsible have done: the variety of details with which they bring Whoville and its residents to three-dimensional life is simply breathtaking and can undoubtedly be compared to the big studio frontrunners Disney and Pixar. At the end you are guaranteed to leave the cinema feeling reconciled.
Conclusion: “The Grinch” is a likeable, technically extremely successful animated film for the whole family, which, however, focuses primarily on its existence as a comedy and largely ignores the narrative dimension of the original, including its criticism of capitalism.
“The Grinch” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from November 29th – also in 3D!