FilmSpace: The Grinch (2018)

Calum Cooper

Film critic Calum Cooper looks at the newest version of Dr Suess’s classic story, questioning the need for its existence while succumbing to Seuss’s tradition of rhyming.

The Grinch – ★★☆☆☆

The Grinch is a tale as old as time

Brought to us by Dr Seuss, the master of rhyme

It’s a joyful Christmas caper filled with wonderful drawings and morals

Yet the making of film adaptations has always spawned quarrels


1966 presented the wonderful Chuck Jones cartoon

A short so charming and fun it would uplift anyone’s afternoon

Whereas Ron Howard’s live action trite lacks esteem

It has now become nothing more than an internet meme


Illumination is the studio behind this newest feature

The people who brought us minions, the definition of an irritating creature

From Despicable Me to Sing, their filmography is a mixed bag

So I feared their treatment of Seuss’s classic would make me gag


But when the credits finally rolled I told myself, that could’ve been worse

This is not an endorsement, for it still lacks a place in the universe

Children may enjoy this new tale

And while that is of course great, I question its necessity, and see it as stale


What pros does this film offer in the ways of delight?

It has beautiful animation, which will no doubt please one’s eyesight

It’s vibrant and created with affectionate detail

Of which it assists the story with a sense of scale

READ MORE FROM FILMSPACE: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms; Johnny English Strikes Again; Smallfoot

Also of note is how the film can be funny

These moments are unfortunately few, but for some it’s still worth the money

It combines word play with fast paced slapstick

Matching the animation style; and Benedict Cumberbatch is just as slick


But when all is said and done

The film feels uninspired – more like an awkward rerun

The Grinch is a story that was short and to the point

Padding it out to suit an hour and a half seems destined to disappoint 


Perhaps my head isn’t screwed on quite right

Could it be that my shoes are too tight?

Either way, I found myself feeling a sense of discrepancy

Mostly due to the film’s own complacency


They try to give the Grinch a backstory, to explain his being an angry lunatic

When the entire point is that he was a dick

Adding unnecessary baggage takes away from the magical simplicity

Confusion on whether he should be sympathetic harms the film’s eccentricity


Unnecessary is the word you’ll likely see during critical attacks

This is apparent when we see the film’s many visual call backs

From remixed songs to reused shots, it references Jones and Howard’s adaptations alike

With this lack of unique identity, the film feels as monotonous as a hike


Then there’s Illumination’s usual annoying tricks

Courtesy of a studio that forces pop culture into the mix

Pandering to audiences with modern songs and obvious punchlines galore

Don’t they know that these are tricks people will come to abhor?


It seems insecure, terrified that children may get bored

So it relies on being loud and over the top, praying the film doesn’t get ignored

Dr Seuss’s original may be simple, but it teaches timeless truths

While this film’s lack of nuance will struggle to please anyone but youths


It may stick to the original message overall

But getting to the foregone conclusion is still quite the haul

The filler is what’s most apparent of all

Complicating a tale of valuable morals, and slowing the pacing down to a crawl


This film is not exactly shite

But by adding nothing new to this tale, it’s still somewhat of a plight

Capturing the magic of Seuss’s teachings is something Hollywood needs to get better at

Rest assured however, for at least it’s not Mike Myers’ Cat in the Hat