If there was one animated movie this year that I really didn't have high hopes for, it was "The Grinch" and there's a good reason why. With the exception of Blue Sky Studios "Horton Hears A Who!", every Dr. Seuss movie I have seen has been not good. I didn't like Jim Carrey's take on the Grinch, I thought "The Lorax" was a mess, and the less said about Mike Myers' "Cat in the Hat", the better. So when Illumination announced they were gonna do another take on How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I got really nervous. Not only was their last Dr. Seuss movie was "The Lorax" which as I said was a mess, but the advertising for "The Grinch" didn't look very appealing to me. So, you can imagine my surprise when I found out that I actually did enjoy this movie. Yeah, I'm not joking here. "The Grinch" is actually a legitimate good Dr. Seuss movie which I never thought I'd see myself utter. Granted it may not be as good as the Chuck Jones television special which I still find a masterpiece, but still, I think this film does the classic story justice.
While the Who's down in Whoville prepare their annual Christmas celebration, the Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) is dreading its arrival due to the unpleasant experiences he has of it. As the celebration plans to get bigger and bigger, the Grinch then plans to steal the holiday from Whoville by dressing as Santa Claus and taking everything Christmas away with the help of his loyal dog Max. The rest of the film does involve him planning on enacting his plan as well as a subplot involving the young Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely), but I'm not gonna spoil it here since the advertising didn't do it also.
To be honest, I really was expecting to hate this film going in. I didn't think this film was necessary considering we had the Chuck Jones special and I still had bad memories of "The Lorax" as well as Illumination's other mediocre movies like "Minions" and "Despicable Me 3" so I really was surprised to see how faithful the story was the original book. It does capture the original story and it's message perfectly and seeing the Grinch prepare his plot to take the holiday led to some funny moments, but it was the subplot with Cindy Lou Who was pretty much the icing on the cake of the film. I really loved this subplot of the movie because it actually legitimately felt heartwarming and I felt that the writing in the scenes with Cindy Lou and her friends was pretty spot on for young kids. The animation once again is good for an Illumination movie. One thing I was legitimately happy with seeing for this film was that they hired new character designers to work on the movie. I did voice my frustration with having Eric Guillon do the character designers for all of Illumination's previous animated movies as it was pretty unfair for other artists out there, so seeing some new artists work on the film was quite relieving to see. As for the characters, they did have their moments. I do like the new take on the Grinch in this movie and I'll give credit to Cumberbatch and Illumination for doing a new take on the character and not base it off Boris Karloff or Jim Carrey's performances as he does act like the famous Christmas grump we all know and even does have some fun moments with Max. Though it's really Cindy Lou that steals the show for me. She was fantastic due to her determined passion and fun personality and her voice actress Cameron Seely was really good in this movie. I can see a bright future ahead for her and I'm really excited to see what she does next. Even her friends are also a lot of fun and led to some funny moments. Though I did really like Seely's performance in the film, I will say Cumberbatch's voice for the Grinch was really questionable. Rather than doing his regular British accent, Cumberbatch played the character with an American accent and ended up sounding a little odd. In fact, if you didn't tell me that was Cumberbatch I would've assumed that Bill Hader was voicing the Christmas Grump. He really sounded like Bill Hader playing this character which made me think if that was the route Illumination was going with then I don't understand why they didn't get Bill Hader to play him. Also, I've got to ask why was Pharell Williams chosen as the narrator? I get that he commonly works with Illumination, but I find it very odd for him to be narrating the film and not even do songs for it. I'll also say some of the jokes do fall flat as well. Like "Smallfoot", this film does have another screaming goat joke which I really think is old and tired now. Though luckily there were other funny jokes that made up for it.
And you know what, I think "The Grinch" gave me what I wanted to see for a Dr. Seuss movie. It gave me a story that was faithful to the original without getting annoying or insulting, animation that was bright and colorful that would go well with the book, and characters that had fun and charm although some of their voice over work did come off questionable at times. I still am up for debate to decide if this movie is better than Horton or not, but in the end, I still think it's a good Dr. Seuss movie and I'll take that any day over a bad one.