Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch” is a story of heart, forgiveness and unity. However, the 2018 adaptation on the holiday story abandons these themes and, instead, leaves an empty shell of immature jokes and half-baked attempts at emotion.
The plot of the story recounts the Grinch’s typical attempts to ruin Christmas for the village of Whoville.
While this iteration of the classic tale follows this plotline, there are too many useless filler scenarios that don’t drive the story forward. Many of these scenarios are beautifully animated, but it never distracts from the mindless actions.
Even characters like Cindy Lou Who, who tends to be the heart of previous adaptations, are subject to these side stories that lead to nothing. If more time was spent establishing her friendship with the Grinch, the ending’s payoff might have felt more earned.
The one satisfying relationship is that between the Grinch and his dog, Max. Almost all of their interactions are adorable and provide for the most laughs. However, this relationship contradicts the idea of the Grinch being sinister and heartless. So when his heart grows three times its size, the change isn’t noticeable.
The relationship between Max and the Grinch is derailed with the introduction of a reindeer character, whose only purpose seems to be a cheap laugh. He disappears as soon as he enters the story, making the audience question the point of his introduction.
The characterization of Whoville and the world itself feels empty and boring. The surreal illustrations in the Dr. Seuss original are watered down in this version and it takes away the whimsical feel of the town itself.
The only whimsy found throughout the film is with some of the voice performances. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Grinch may not be completely sinister, but he brings a wheezing voice to the character that fits well with the animation
Kenan Thompson seems like he is having the most fun as Mr. Bricklebaum, an especially joyous member of Whoville. The energy he brings to the voice is contagious and it’s hard not to smile when he speaks about his love for the holiday season.
While these voice performances added some sort of energy to the film, the boring filler sequences made up of joyless action are a husk of the classic story. Without the heart or surreal nature of Dr. Seuss’ original, the audience is left with a drag of an experience.