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When people think about the Grinch, the first thing that comes into mind is a furry, green monster who's as a cuddly as a cactus and charming as eel. A Card-Carrying Villain who wants to make the lives of the Whos miserable, even when it's not Christmas Day. We can thank Chuck Jones' adaptation for how everyone sees the Grinch, especially with the iconic song that relishes in calling the Grinch with colorful insults of how nasty he is. It has such an impact to the character that future iterations of the Grinch draws heavily on this portrayal, be it future animated Suess' shorts or the live-action 2000 version starring Jim Carrey. So much so that people cry foul when Illumination's adaptation of the story features a Grinch that was more interactive with Whoville and considerably "less mean" than usual.
But the whole idea of the Grinch being this actively malicious villain or a dreaded figure that the Whos fear is a fairly recent interpretation of the character, and it's more of a testament of how influential the Chuck Jones' version was. The Grinch in the book is a recluse person who hates Christmas, but it's never made clear if the Whos even know that the Grinch exists, let alone fear him. And the Grinch's mischievous plan only occurs when he decides that 53 years was a year too long for him to put up with. When put into that context, Illumination's Grinch is true the character in its own way.
Yes, the Grinch does come to Whoville more often than before, but only because he needs food from the store. It's a Necessary Evil for the Grinch, and he makes it clear he doesn't like it one bit. He still does his usual Grinchy tricks every now and then to keep himself entertained. The Grinch's Freudian Excuse is a bit disjointed in terms of film's narrative, but the excuse itself makes sense in this story as opposed to being bullied by Who children like in the live action. Being alone and not having that family feels is something that only the Grinch could fix and no one else. The solution to his problems was there in front of him, with Whos ready to welcome him with open arms, but his own beliefs are holding him back. In many ways, the Grinch reminds me more of the Angry Video Game Nerd, especially with that Christmas Grinch-inspired episode.
And that is not a bad thing for me. Illumination kept true to the story's core without the baggages of other competing themes such as the critique of Christmas materialism or love triangles. As such, kids can easily follow it just like the book and the original story.
Aside from the padding in the middle of the story, the only real factor that would affect your enjoyment of this film is whether or not you believe that the Grinch is... grinchy enough. If you prefer a mean Grinch who relishes in ruining everyone's fun, then this may not be for you. But if you are open to a new interpretation of the Grinch or see how the character fits in modern context, I say check it out.
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