So today, my Brother asked my mother and I what we thought of the new “Grinch” movie because he had seen an article by the New York Post about it. This prompted me to read the article myself and I was not happy right of the bat with the title.
Everyone, young and old, tall and small, knows the classic tale of Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch.” Or “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” if you want the longer title. He is a furry green monster-ish Who that lives at the top of Mount Crumpet looking down at the overly happy Who’s of Whoville and hates each and every one. But when Christmas comes, then he hates life the most, which is relatable for many that time of year. So, he comes up with the idea to steal the Who’s Christmas and make them as sad as him. With the help of his faithful dog Max, the two successfully steal all the toys and decorations of the town and await the cries of the Who’s. But instead, they sing and are happy to just be together and this love makes the Grinch change his ways and join them in their celebration.
Now, whether you see this as a story of how Christmas is all about greed and how truly vile society can be during a supposedly loving time of year like Jim Carrey’s version of the story, or just how people hate Christmas because they took a Wiccan celebration and commercialized it to a Christian holiday, that’s your choice. As someone who worked in retail for 11 years, you get to see how terrible people can truly be, despite their own cries to be better people. Not to mention, not EVERYONE celebrates Christmas, so as a Jewish person, it gets frustrating this time of year. But we can all agree, when the classic song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” comes on, you know you are going to sing along.
With the holiday’s around the corner, Illumination released a computer animated version of the tale with Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the classic character. Illumination, the guys who did “Despicable Me”, “Horton Hears a Who”, and “The Lorax” know what they are doing when it comes to creating a magical land with strange characters while trying to keep to the original classic. Obviously, some liberties have to be taken but the movie stays true to the tale that there is more in life than toys, useless gifts and the fact that perhaps even the meanest of people can change for the better.
Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post recently posted an article saying “Gutted “Grinch” is Warping kids into weak-minded snowflakes” for his review of the film. He mocks the title change to being shorter and that the Grinch is just a cranky guy and not a monster like we’ve been led to believe all these years. In fact, changing for the Grinch is easy and has ‘zero point beyond continuing society’s destructive habit of protecting kids from harmless and potentially useful stories. In this age of social-media trolls, watching a solitary, truly repugnant meanie have a change of heart would be a positive message for children. One that defies seasonally and that they could carry with them. Instead, we insist on shielding little ones from the harsh realities of the world, so that when they finally enter it, they’ll prefer the warm embrace of their parent’s basement. Absolutely Seuss-less.”
Ok. Harsh, yes. True – only partially. While the Grinch is meant to be this heartless, evil creature, in the movie he HAS a reason why he hates Christmas. At one point, he has a full-blown PTSD moment (which many people do have this time of year) where we see that he was an Orphan and alone all his life. Seeing his ‘friends’ get adopted to happy families while he was left with nothing is pretty heartbreaking for a kid or adult. He is hounded when he goes into town by Christmas Caroler’s which is disturbing for anyone and shows how pushy people get this time of year with this Holiday. Let alone him just trying to turn his alarm off and all he gets is Christmas Music, which to me personally, is the most frustrating thing. I don’t need to hear the SAME SONG every other minute but be done by other artists. . . unless it’s the Grinch Song…
Oleksinski also misses a large underlining of the film with the way-too-adorable-to-be-true character of Cindy-Loo Who trying desperately to help her overworked single mom. Her mom (voiced by Rashida Jones) works overnights at the hospital then comes home to deal with Cindy-Loo and her two twin brothers by herself, which perfectly resembles a real-life Single Mom. Cindy’s realization of the situation and love for her mom is something all daughters can relate to when it comes to how hard mom’s work without complaining. It shows kids to respect their parents and that it is not always about them like they think. Perhaps they can take that away from the movie.
While Benedict may have the perfect evil voice, it is clearly toned down for this film but still has the power to creep you out when he wants to. His relationship with his dog Max is one of the more obvious changes in the story, whereas before he couldn’t have cared less for the companion. But in this, not only is Max “ride or die” for the Grinch, but the Grinch shows compassion for his little friend while still occasionally taking advantage of his kindness. At one point they play chess and when the Grinch realizes he’s losing, he uses a ball to distract Max, so he can win. Cute and evil. Perhaps because of the backstory we see earlier with his time at the Orphanage, it’s why he treats Max with a little more respect. That could also teach kids to treat friends, fuzzy or not, to be loyal to their own peers.
There is also the added character of Fred the Reindeer, who “looks like he ate the other 7’ that Santa had. The Grinch decides to actually use reindeer in his plan and gets Fred, who is more than happy to help and is good for a little comic relief with his time there. But at one point, the Grinch has an uncharacteristic change of heart that allows him to let Fred go. While I can see how this might make the Grinch look weak, it is a partial lesson for kids to take with them. Fred comes back later to help the Grinch and shows how truly loyal he is and how doing something that might hurt you can help others.
The movie is yes, toned down as far as the Grinch having his heart 3 sizes too small, but he is still a Mean one in his own way. But it is in no way going to “warp kids mind into snowflakes.” Instead, hopefully, it can open their eyes to treat others who don’t like the Holiday for their own reasons with kindness and to love all their parents do for them. The Grinch is meant to be a story about change and that’s what happens to the Grinch. He goes from being alone to being loved when he himself didn’t think he could be and his heartbreaking monologue at the end of the film will make anyone teary. Take away more good than bad from the movie Mr. Olekinski, or you could be the real Grinch.