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Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 2/5/2019

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/21/2019

You don't have to be a sociologist or a history professor to know that we are living in some pretty strange times. There are a lot of strong feelings swirling around our country (and the rest of the world) and people seem to either be incredibly mean or super nice, with very little in-between. So, this raises the question -- Is it weird that we get a new Grinch movie that seems to reflect these uneasy emotions which are all around us? The feature-length animated Dr. Seuss' The Grinch proves to be a film which may be tuning into the zeitgeist a little too well.

The Whos who live in Whoville are an incredibly cheerful and pleasant group of individuals and they truly love Christmas. They decorate Whoville the town and prepare for the arrival of Santa Claus. However, The Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), who lives in a cave high above Whoville with his dog, Max, hates everything about Christmas and decides that he wants to literally steal Christmas and rob the Whos of their holiday joy. So, he hatches a plan which involves a sleigh and an obese reindeer named Fred, and begins his nefarious caper. However, an encounter with a young Who named Cindy-Lou (voiced by Cameron Seely) may give The Grinch a change of heart.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas was first published in 1957, and over 60 years later, we are all very familiar with the story. Most of us know it best from the 1966 made-for-television special which was directed by Chuck Jones. Given that the book is relatively short, the makers of Dr. Seuss' The Grinch had to add some things to the story to make it feature-length. So, we get to see more of Cindy-Lou's home life. Here, she's being raised by a single mom, voiced by Rashida Jones (why can't anyone in an animated film have two parents?). We are also introduced to Mr. Bricklebaum (voiced by Kenan Thompson), a Who who is convinced that he is friends with The Grinch. These additions aren't necessarily bad, although Cindy-Lou is a little too rough around the edges here, but they do pull focus from The Grinch, and that's who we're here to see.

At least, that's what we thought. We know The Grinch from the book and the animated special -- the ultimate grumpy old man, who has no regard for anyone else's feelings, even his devoted dog, Max. However, The Grinch which we get in this new movie isn't really like that at all. There's only a few times in the film when he borders on being mean. He's more of a sourpuss and a trickster. He seems to genuinely like and appreciate Max and he's even nice to the weird Fred. I often take movies to task when they place a villain in the lead role, so I can understand why they would want to tone down The Grinch's evil ways. But, by having him be more of a sad-sack than a true bad-guy, his eventual emotional growth loses much of its impact.

In fact, that describes much of Dr. Seuss' The Grinch. The movie is decidedly mediocre and doesn't pack a punch. That's not to say that it doesn't have its charms. There are some funny moments here, a few from The Grinch, but most come from Max. As noted above, there are some new elements added to the story, but it sticks to the original plot, delivering no surprises. The animation is very impressive and the array of unique shapes and bright colors certainly make the movie a visual feast. Dr. Seuss' The Grinch is a fun distraction for the whole family, just don't expect it to change your thinking on this classic tale.

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch was Co-Directed by Snowball from Clerks courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 70 Mbps. If you've been looking for a new movie to show off your 4K TV to people, this is it. The picture here is nearly perfect. First of all, the colors are amazing. They are bright and realistic and the image is never dark. The level of detail is impressive, as we can see the work which went into the animation, and this 2D version stills delivers a great amount of depth. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The scenes in Whoville offer nicely done stereo effects which help to highlight sounds coming from off-screen. The action sequences bring nicely detailed surround sound effects. The subwoofer effects are obvious, but not as strong as we get in most modern films.

The Dr. Seuss' The Grinch 4K UHD contains several extra features. We begin with three "Mini Movies" -- "Yellow is the New Black" (4 minutes) has the Minions in prison; "The Dog Days of Winter" (4 minutes) has Max caring for a sick Grinch; and "Santa's Little Helpers" (4 minutes) brings back the Minions to show them visiting the North Pole. "The Making of the Mini-Movies" (6 minutes) takes us behind-the-scenes to learn more about the shorts. "From Green to Screen" (6 minutes) focuses on the challenge of taking a short book and turning it into a feature film. The creative team and cast talk about how the book was used as a launching point. Very similarly, "Illuminating The Grinch" (5 minutes) looks at how the character design grew from the reference point of the book. We get to see some test animation here. "Who's Who in Who-Ville" is an interactive feature which allows the viewer to learn more about several of the main characters through character profiles and animation tests. "My Earliest Grinch Memories" (3 minutes) has the cast and team talking about how they were first introduced to the character. "Grinchy Gadgets" (3 minutes) examines the thought behind The Grinch's technology. We get MUSIC VIDEOS for the songs "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and "I am The Grinch". "Songs from His Little Heart" (3 minutes) offers an interview with Composer Danny Elfman. "Any Who Can Draw" (7 minutes) has Mark O'Hare giving instructions on how to draw The Grinch, Max and Fred. "X-Mas Around the World" (2 minutes) is a very mini documentary who looks at Christmas traditions in other countries. "Cindy-Lou's Yule Log" is an 8-minute yule log reel.

Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long