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Film Review: The Grinch

Christmas; the most wonderful time of the year. But it can get too much and stress us all out a little. Whether it’s the jam-packed shops, with mile long queues or the gruelling task of setting up the Christmas Tree, lights hanging in places you didn’t think they could hang and the last-minute panic of if there will be enough roasties on the dinner table, there’s plenty worth whining about. Perhaps that’s why the Grinch, Dr Seuss’ iconic character who despises all things festive, is still relevant even in 2018. We can all relate, just a little. Some in his looks more than characteristics…

I recently went over to the VUE cinema located in Gateshead, right next to the Trinity Square student accommodation, it took less than half an hour to stroll over from my accommodation, across the city and the Tyne. Trinity Square feels like its own community so if you want to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city but still want to feel part of a neighbourhood, this accommodation is a great choice! It has it has its own on-site gym, study spaces, cinema room and a GIANT Tesco Extra (a lot more choice than the smaller stores found in the city) Nearby you can find a cheeky Nandos, Wilko’s and of course the VUE cinema, it’s like its own little village. Anyway, back to the film…

From Illumination; the creators of the Minions. Pharrell Williams narrates this fun and bright remake of Dr Seuss’s 1957 classic. It’s a lot softer than the 1966 original film, the Grinch is less of a maniac but with the same old sour attitude and wicked temper. His green fur is a little less wirey and Max (his pet dog) is even cuter. In this latest version he’s voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, like Sherlock Holmes there’s an under lying mystery around the Grinch’s character; why is he so mean? how can you really come to hate Christmas this much? His mean streak is portrayed less in this recreation, we come to sympathise more than despise early on, which I think takes away from the character we all know (and relate to). It does however make his character more likeable, especially to a younger audience, the Grinch is a lot more loving to his dog Max and as a clear message of the importance of loved ones around this time of year is unravelled.

Although the plot may be unoriginal and a little bleak it is more than made up for in the visual gags, subtle jokes even for the wittier of us too, from dog reconnaissance drones, emotional over-eating and Mould Spice deodorant (that’s my Dad’s Christmas present sorted), the film is fun for kids and nostalgic for adults alike.

The plot follows the Grinch planning his Christmas Eve schemes to steal Christmas from his festive obsessed neighbours in Whoville. “Every Who down in Whoville, liked Christmas a lot” and as the mayor declares this Christmas to be three times bigger than the last, the Grinch can’t hold back his bah hum bug outlook due to his heart being three times smaller than normal. Flash backs of a Christmas once past, haunt him of his lonely Christmas childhood.

“Who’s this mean fellow with his skin all green and his teeth all yellow?”

Rhyming lifted straight from Dr Seuss’s original book adds to the emotion and sympathy we begin to feel for the Grinch. The soundtrack is not one to miss, its dark rhythm is pretty sweet, I might even add a few to my festive playlist. It features songs by Tyler the Creator and DMC.

The story isn’t just about how the Grinch, lynched Christmas. It follows a young ‘Who’ named Cindy Lou (I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it, watch your back Dr. Seuss). Cindy Lou wants nothing more than for Santa to grant her selfless wish for her hard-working single mum to feel appreciated and loved.

This adaptation is bright, colourful, and occasionally funny, but it doesn't come close to matching the effectiveness and darkness of the short-and-sweet original. The Grinch's lovable and loyal dog, Max, makes the green meanie a bit more sympathetic, as does the sad backstory that explains his motivations for hating the holiday.

I think the takeaway from this recreation is for us to appreciate less the materialistic side of Christmas, it’s not about having the biggest and brightest tree, the top toy and not even the lavish Christmas dinner with extra pigs-in-blankets, extra gravy and all the trimmings. Christmas is about appreciating those around us, our families and friends and what they do for us all year round. It’s the one time of year we should reflect and have less self-indulgence and more selflessness; to be like Cindy Lou and go out our way to help those, like the Grinch that need extra support and a bit of lovin’ at this busy time of year.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”

So if all you want for Christmas is a fun filled family film, a laugh and an inspiring message, this is the film for you.

I wish you all a great Christmas, but whilst you’re with your loving families, don’t forget ‘the Grinch’s’ in your community that find this time of year hard.

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