You’re A Cute Film, Mr. Grinch

The Grinch Poster

            Time honored classics hold a special place in our hearts, sometimes to the point of being unable to ever be touched by remakes or other twists.  Still that does not stop Hollywood from trying to find ways to make an idea modernized to help reel in new generations.  Sometimes these twists are amazing to the point of becoming the new standard, while others should remain in the thought pool to develop some more.  Tonight, Dr. Seuss’ legendary Grinch tries to come in with a chance to make itself relevant to the new age.  Will it run with the two previous versions that are the big dogs in holiday cinema?  That’s where I come in.  Robbie K back this week for the first review on:

 

Movie: The Grinch (2018)

 

Directors:

Yarrow CheneyScott Mosier

Writers:

Michael LeSieur (screenplay by), Dr. Seuss (based on the book by)

Stars:

Rashida JonesTristan O’HareScarlett Estevez

 

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Animation:  In the modern age of computer cinema, I agree that the new visual style is a welcome addition to the series.  Illumination’s style goes well with this movie, the cartoony visuals, bright colors, and odd shapes fitting right into the imagination of Dr. Seuss.  Little ones will appreciate all the energy in the design and the magical heart of Whoville in their love for Christmas.  In addition to all the colorful and fun displays, the Grinch and company have wonderfully smooth animation, crisp and clean to capture all the slapstick shenanigans these movies are famous for.

Voice Acting:  Not many here, but Benedict Cumberbatchis the lead in this movie, showing off his voice acting skills once more in a fun manner. Perhaps not the most elaborate character in his repertoire, this Grinch has a number of octaves and mannerisms to get my nod of approval, as Cumberbatch once again adds life to the artificially crafted characters.  Cameron Seelyas Cindy Lou Who has some sass to the classical, good souled who that still has that innocence, but with the modern twist.  As for Kenan Thompson, he is funny in his one-liners that take you back into the 90s where he reigned king.

 

Cute:  The movie is a family friendly film, with that youthful energy to kick off the holiday season and get you onto the mood.  The Grinch brings that modern tale to full light and the new twist has been tailored towards the target audience of 4-10-year-old kids and the young at heart.  In addition, all the comedy and story will potentially make your heart grow three sizes.

 

The Creativity:  Say what you want about the others installments of this film, but this Grinch gets bonus points for the clever twists brought into the heist scene.  Yes the first one was brilliant and went in time with the song, and Jim Carey’s version had the darker, fun delight that was a little spooky giving the lighting. This one though, adds gadgets and technology that were rather Seuss-like and most likely the subject of action figures and toys alike.  Still, the Grinch’s new genius is just another nice twist to the mix, again matching the talents of the voice actor who portrays him.

 

The Dual Stories:  One part is the tale we’ve come to know and love, while the other running tangent is a small story that gives us more Cindy Lou Who.  The Movie does a nice job of having the two key characters trekking down their own paths, each blazing their own path as they head to the fateful night.  It’s not the most character centric story, but it works well for me and gives little girls a new animated character to pull for.

 

DISLIKES:

 

A Little Too Simple: The Grinch’s modern twist is perfect for the modern age of kid themed movies, being innocent, sweet fun that leaves you with a feeling of Christmas. Yet, the movie still is a little to simple, lacking those qualities the previous installments held that made the memorable. Perhaps a little more story, a little more heart, or just some more injection of adult components into the mix could have taken this film farther.

 

More Character Development: The Grinch seemed rather simple, but the Jim Carey version proved this green curmudgeon held more story than ever imagined.  Sadly, this version sacrificed characters for the slapstick gimmicks to net kids in. Sure, there are backbone framework established, but there was so much more discovery and tales to tell to help strengthen the film.  Other characters could have been involved as well, but they were only momentary colors on the screen, with a few one-line jabs to get some chuckles.  Nevertheless, the movie needed more character utilization for this guy.

 

Predictable/Shown In Trailers:  No surprise that the Grinch is predictable, but why could it not have escaped the curse of the revealing trailers.  The Grinch’s surprises are ruined mostly by the glimpses in the trailer, leaving you with little to discover past the meat of the film.  There are still some special gifts hidden under the trees, but perhaps not in the brightest, shiniest style it could have been.

 

More Cindy Lou Story: I know it’s called the Grinch, but they opened the flood gates for another story that could have been even cuter. Cindy Lou’s story introduced lots of characters that could have again established more of that twist, perhaps giving it that special something this version needed.  Fortunately, there was a major finale to help wrap up and inspire, but some more development was needed in this component to really add that final finesse.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Grinch is a tough challenge to take on given the champion films we have in the past.  Still, this reviewer enjoyed the fun adventure that is appropriate for the whole family.  The animation, design, and comedy are all for the intended audience and one might enjoy seeing their little one’s face light up at the magic of Christmas unfolding. Sadly, the movie still has some work in terms of bringing more to the table, taking the story and gimmicks to the full potential by injecting a few more unique features to escape the trailers revelations.  Still, I applaud the new twist for the creativity and think that a family outing can warrant a visit.  Yet, the classics are free and available at home, and that may be difficult to miss when they are so good. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Comedy/Family: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

 

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Not So Little On Emotion, But Needs Some Big Editing

Little Women Poster

 

Robbie K with the last review of the night, and with it one that aims to look at the latest book turned movie remake.  A timeless classic constantly tweaked, tonight’s film hopes to bring the passion, drama, and emotional roller coaster ride that this story has been for ages.  Enough jabbering, let us get to business as I review:

 

 

Movie: Little Women (2018)

 

 

Director:

Clare Niederpruem

Writers:

Louisa May AlcottClare Niederpruem

Stars:

Lea ThompsonIan BohenLucas Grabeel

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Certainly not the same performance of the previous installments but the new age twist of this movie brought with it plenty of talent to pave the way.  The girls had fantastic chemistry for me, a nice little community very knit together and crafting a family that although dysfunctional felt like a realistic display of the modern drama.  Passionate, yet somewhat controlled, each leading lady contributed greatly to the film overall, though I have to say Allie Jenningsand Lucas Grabeelwere my champions of the bunch.

 

The Modernized Twist: The originals love to tell it from a historical component/traditional side that holds its charm, majesty, and timeless sense of wonder.  However, the outdated version can be difficult to hold attention, so the modernized version appeared.  I myself certainly enjoyed the modern edge, finding issues that I believe will speak widely to the audience of today.  The girls face a number of issues including marriage, dating, peer pressure, and envy, all with valuable lessons that should appeal to the younger crowd.

 

The Setting/Prop Departments: I’m a sucker for making a setting look good and this Little Women accomplished the task of bring suburban life to full swing.  You’ll feel quite quaint in the girls crowded home, become a part of the adventures that they sail through in their youth, and during the more dramatic moments feel their pain in the confines of the castles they so wanted.

 

The Cinematography: It’s not the most dazzling sights or the ability to make fictional creatures come to life, but the camera work in this film is incredible in regards to amplifying the emotion of the moments.  Focusing on faces, utilizing the light and make up to shine, and even emphasizing those tears are all incredibly combined to get those tears flowing for other audience members.  Nice work indeed.

The Musical Score: Yet, much of this movie would be lost without the incredible score to support the scenes.  Powerful orchestra work, mostly led by the piano, is the means to which the emotion is maximized.  Having that beautiful, sad score only brings out the beauty even further, adding that nice supporting punch that gives you goosebumps, or at least resonates in your heart. Even the Indy music works in regards to helping add a little spunk to the fun moments, the lyrics probably a good poetic representation of the moments that is stronger than the dialogue.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Time Jump: I always though the originals were a straightforward approach through life, but I haven’t seen these in a while so I can’t be sure.  This movie decides to jump back and forth between past and present, a nice symbolic representation of the mind set of Joe as she finds the inspiration to handle things in life.  However, for this film the flashback seems rather random, the purpose of them diluted and the placement hard to believe given my other dislike.  I think a straightforward approach would have worked better for me in the grand scheme, but points for creativity.

 

The Age Defying:  As the flash back scenes progress you would expect the girls to gradually get some aging to them.  This movie does a poor job of keeping to that consistency, with many of the girls looking the same six years later, despite them being in their prime growing years.  Age defying magic may be desirable, but it shatters the reality and annoyed me when suddenly the time jump happened and only one person really changed.  For a movie going for realism, they didn’t accomplish this.

 

Not Focusing On The Other Girls Enough:  The story is told through the perspective of Joe for the most part, and this time they decided to short sight the other ladies.  Sure there are enough details to give you the gist, but I felt that much of the girls emotional growth was left in the dust, especially  Lea Thompson’s character.  When some of the big dramatic moments happen, they are actually passed over quickly, a mere shadow of what they could have done.  Such discretion was a little disappointing to see, though it did keep the pace interesting and out of melodramatic territory. Though Beth’s tale is probably the exception to the rule.

 

Jo:  The character Jo is a strong one, bringing a central pillar to brace all the supporting subplots on.  While I can get on board with some of the times she reacts, Jo’s character was a little overdone/soap opera level for me to handle at times.  The overboard reactions for everything got annoying for me, and seeing her turn into the brat had my empathy levels really stretched to help understand her outlook.  Seeing as she overtook most of the plot and at times was removed from the rest of the group, this story development was not the best direction for me for a story about family.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the movie accomplishes the goal of being the emotional stimulator that it wants to be.  The modernization will help make it relevant to the modern generation, also helping improve the pace, to give you the movie version of the classic book. However, while the skeletal frame is still there, the movie lacks a lot of the details previous editions held and doesn’t quite have the same togetherness.  Still, a sob story lies in this film, with great morals and portrayals of life despite defying the aging process.  So for you drama lovers, this one is for you, but in regards to a theater visit, you’re best left until it hits home viewing in my opinion. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Family:  6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0