PG Dir: Scott Mosier, Yarrow Cheney | Universal | 1h 26min
Plot: What’s it about?
The published date of this review will be January 25, 2019. Many of us are still trying to shake off the holiday cheer that is Christmas. And just one month to the day after our savior was born, I’m covering a 4K review of a film from said season. Is it me or is there something inherently wrong with that? I guess, in the film’s defense, IMDb shows the release date of November 8, 2018. But still…it’s just weird. Switching gears, we’ve got an animated film who’s (pardon the pun) namesake dates back to the 60’s in film form that’s now been re-animated. The last version was a 2000 live-action version starring Jim Carrey. You know what? This review is already all over the place. And, let’s face it, if you don’t know the plot of The Grinch, well I guess it’s up to me to give you the low down. Ho ho ho, let’s get started.
First thing’s first – Max the dog – he’s an enabler. This movie and story would be a lot different if not for him. That tongue sticking out. His tail wagging about. Just who the hell does he think he is?
The Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) lives high in the mountains where he can be away from everyone and everything. I long to do that myself. His dog, the aforementioned Max, at his side. But he’s got a problem – he’s hungry. Not Max. The Grinch. He’s eaten all of his food and now much wallow with the citizens of Whoville in mid-December. And you know what that means? Yep, he’s assaulted with Christmas cheer and the townsfolk’s merriment. It’s enough to make your skin crawl. But The Grinch is a clever one. Oh yes he is! He uses his talents as an inventor and recruits a dim-witted reindeer (are there any other kind?) named Fred and devises a plan to steal the town’s Christmas presents in one night. Alas we forget dear Cindy Lou (voiced by Cameron Seely), desperate with a one-on-one with St. Nick (that’s Santa to the lay person) so she can make a special request. I think we all know what happens next.
After the killing spree, I wasn’t sure what to think. Wait, wrong movie. Oh yeah, The Grinch. Well it turns out he came to his senses and returned the presents and decided to be, you know, not so much of a dick anymore. Merry Christmas.
Admittedly, this isn’t a bad movie, there was just no need for it. The 2000 Jim Carrey version had its detractors, but even it has worked its way into the holiday-themed pantheon of film lore. And it starred Jim Carrey in his prime. What could be better than that? The one this film really takes its cues from is the 1966 which, for all intents and purposes, is the one true version. Yep, the one true King of the North is The Grinch! Sorry, I got distracted again. This one is from Illumination Entertainment and if production companies aren’t your thing, then it’s the same folks who brought you Despicable Me and the Minions. You’re welcome. I think. So while it’s not a total waste of time, there’ really no need to check it out unless you’ve got little ones dying to see a green-furred “thing” be mean (and then later, nice) to a group of weird-looking folks. You know the drill. And you’ve been warned.
Video: How’s it look?
Ok, who are we kidding? When putting in a new-to-the-format 4K disc of a computer-animated film, I’d sooner expect to see pigs fly than be disappointed with the way this will (should) look. Guess what? I don’t see any pigs flying. My feeble attempt at humor aside, The Grinch does look every bit as good as I thought it would. The animation is bright, bold, vivid and colorful (and yes, I realize all those essentially mean the same thing). The HDR gives the colors a bit more “pop” than the Blu-ray counterpart. The Grinch seems a bit more “fluffy” this time around as opposed to the matted rug that the Jim Carrey version had. Then again that was live-action and this isn’t. Simply put, this is everything you could want in a home video format. Kids will dig it and if you want to show off how many colors your HDTV has – just stick this disc in, you won’t be disappointed.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Part of the fun of watching an animated film is trying to guess which celebrity voice is doing which part. Some are easy, others aren’t. As it turns out I did cheat a little bit when I saw Benedict Cumberbatch’s name listed first. One would assume that he’s the voice of the Grinch. And he is. The Dolby Atmos mix has great channel separation as well as a very distinct vocal tone to it. Cumberbatch’s voice is distinctly American and he seems to be doing his absolute best to sound like Paul Giamatti. The thought occurred to me – why not just get Paul Giamatti? Anyway, I digress…surrounds are active, constantly churning out holiday cheer (or jeer, depending on your point of view), the LFE have a few moments of glory and the front stage handles the rest. Yep, those Atmos speakers are going to bounce that sound all around your room. Get ready kiddies, it’s Christmas time!
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Who’s Who in Who-ville (interactive map) – There are so many interesting characters that call Who-ville home that it’s hard to keep track of them all. This “Who’s Who” pop-up book uses animation to create a virtual storybook that takes us from Who-ville to Mt. Crumpit.
- “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” Lyric Video – Tyler, The Creator puts a modern spin on the Seussian Christmas classic.
- Mini Movies
- Yellow is the New Black – Before they all make their big escape from prison in Despicable Me 3, a couple of lucky Minions get a taste of freedom as they break free with the help of one of their fellow human inmates.
- Dog Days of Winter – Max braves the harsh winter weather and an uncooperative Who to bring a sick Grinch his favorite hot tea.
- Santa’s Little Helpers – Fan favorites – the Minions – are back for another adventure! Having been accidently dropped off at the North Pole, our Minion pals make the most of the situation by trying to become elves.
- The Making of the Mini-Movies – Mini in size but not in heart, these short films are fan favorites. From the Grinch and Max to the Minions – you’ll explore the themes of each of the mini-movies through the eyes of the filmmakers who made them.
- From Green to Screen – It takes a lot to bring grumpy green to your home screen. This inside look at the making of Illumination’s Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch features interviews and behind-the-scenes moments with the cast, filmmakers and artists whose hearts have all grown three sizes bringing this classic tale to life.
- Illuminating The Grinch – Using filmmaker and cast interviews, concept art and progression reels, we take a behind-the-scenes look at how the characters evolved from initial sketches to fully realized characters.
- My Earliest Grinch Memories – The cast and filmmakers reveal their earliest memories of the grumpy green character and the enduring appeal of this Christmas curmudgeon’s journey to redemption.
- Grinchy Gadgets – From his body-size blow dryer to his moving mechanical chair, from his catapult to his dog drone-rig and more… you’ll get to explore the wondrous world of Grinch’s gadgets.
- “I Am The Grinch” Lyric Video – A stylized look at Tyler, The Creator’s original song created just for the film.
- Songs From His Little Heart – Take a deep dive into the toe tapping beats of the movie. From score to specialty songs, you’ll hear from the film’s A-list musicians on what it took to create the music behind the movie.
- X-mas Around the World – Every culture practices Christmas in a slightly different way. We’ll highlight some of the more fun permutations of the holiday around the globe.
- Cindy-Lou’s Yule Log – Nothing says the holidays quite like an animated fireplace blasting fake heat from your living room television. Just in time for winter, we’ll recreate Cindy-Lou’s living room on Christmas Eve for all to enjoy.
- Production Babies – A celebration of the babies born to the filmmakers during the production of Illumination’s Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch.
- Any Who Can Draw – Hosted by an Illumination artist and head of story Mark O’Hare, you’ll see step-by-step how to draw some of your favorite characters from this beloved holiday classic; Grinch, Max and Fred!
The Bottom Line
Disney is going back in their catalog and making live-action films out of all their classic animated movies. Universal seems to be going the other way. Whatever your fancy, there’s really not a lot of new ground covered here. It’s basically a remake of the original 1966 version. If you want the best version, story wise, then there’s really only one choice: the original 1966 animated version. That aside, this disc sports and amazing picture and sound and has plenty of family-friendly features that may or may not keep the little ones entertained.