I do not have high expectations to see Illumination Entertainment’s take on How The Grinch Stole Christmas, one of the most beloved and iconic tales from Ted Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, when it premieres (supposedly) in 2018.
Now for the most part, I try not to dismiss certain movies before I see them, but then there are ideas that I feel are doomed from the start. This is one such case.
When it comes to adaptations of the classic book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, two spring immediately to mind: the Chuck Jones animated special from 1966, which I watched often as a kid around Christmas time and still consider one of the greatest Christmas specials ever made, (certainly better than most of Rankin/Bass’ crap,) and the Ron Howard movie that came out in 2000, which I saw and, even with all of its faults, did get enjoyment out of a good chunk of it, particularly Jim Carrey’s manic portrayal of The Grinch. So it seems unthinkable to me that someone would adapt this story again. Has it seriously been THAT long since a movie version came out?
|Whoever designed this should be deeply ashamed of themselves...|
But that’s not my only problem with this upcoming adaptation of The Grinch. There’s also the little fact that it’s being made by Illumination Entertainment, the creators of the Despicable Me movie and the highly marketed Minions. Why is this an issue? While the movies they made tend to make a surprisingly large amount of money, they also tend to be hit-or-miss when it comes to the quality, with most of them never reaching above mediocre in ratings, and I tend to have a huge amount of contempt for them in general, especially because of the attention they’ve been getting. I’ve only seen two Illumination films to date: the aforementioned Despicable Me, and The Lorax, their previous adaptation of a Dr. Seuss work. Now, Despicable Me was alright, nothing extraordinary, but it had its fair share of funny moments and cute moments, and the premise was certainly an interesting one. The Lorax, on the other hand…
|"Fantastic Fun for Everyone", my foot!|
The Lorax just sucked. I mean, yeah, it does look nice and it does have the occasional funny bit and the occasional decently executed scene, but overall it was severely underwhelming. As an adaptation of the book, it fails, and even on its own terms, it’s still not all that good. The leads are boring, the storytelling is very paint-by-numbers, there are pointlessly phoned-in songs, most of the decisions made are highly questionable, and making the Once-ler a human has only led to cringy DeviantART fanwork.
But the biggest sin is how hypocritical it wound up being. The Lorax, as written by Dr. Seuss, was not only an environmental tale, but also one that criticized corporate greed and big business practices. This is especially ironic and cringe-worthy when you consider that Universal, before this movie’s release, used this movie to market jeeps and iHop pancakes, among other things.
The Lorax was previously adapted into a special in the 70s by DePatie-Freleng, and while it’s not the best Dr. Seuss animated special, it’s still far more faithful to the book than this movie was, and one of my brother’s favorite Dr. Seuss quotes came from it:
“They say I’m old-fashioned and live in the past,
But sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!”
Truer words have never been spoken…
And even though Illumination’s take on The Lorax was a financial hit (at least, from what I heard,) it’s baffling to think that Audrey Geisel (Dr. Seuss’ widow) would make this same mistake of allowing these guys to work with MORE of her late husband’s material. You’d think with such a disgraceful adaptation, she’d sever ties with Illumination completely, like with how The Cat In The Hat put an end to the live-action adaptations, but for some reason, she’s allowing them to adapt more Dr. Seuss works. Illumination Entertainment really shouldn’t be allowed to touch any of these stories with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole, especially if they release posters that look like THIS:
|Seriously, what the hell is this? Who came up with this? Who APPROVED of it?|
So yeah, I have absolutely no faith in Illumination’s take on this classic story. Especially since I know of another attempt to adapt How The Grinch Stole Christmas that didn’t make it off the ground.
Sometime before the Ron Howard movie, cartoonist Berkeley Breathed (of Bloom County fame) did some concept art work for his own idea of a Grinch adaptation, an animated film with Jack Nicholson voicing the Grinch, and I find these drawings far more interesting and appealing than what Illumination is planning to dump onto box offices. These pieces showcase a Seussian sensibility while also displaying Breathed’s off-beat sense of humor. And yes, this includes his bizarre obsession with tighty-whiteys.
He showed these drawings to Audrey Geisel, and while she did like them, she ultimately decided to go with Howard’s vision. Shame, too, because while I’m fine with the 2000 movie adaptation, even if it does have problems, I think this would have been a fun take on the Grinch, especially since I adore Berkeley Breathed’s work. He always approaches satire with both a sharp edge and a sense of charm, his drawings and artwork can be both beautiful and hysterical, and his writing is funny enough to appeal to both kids and adults. If anyone should be allowed to do a new adaptation of the Grinch, he’d be my personal pick. Sadly, that seems to not be the case, as people seem to be content with letting the chuckleheads responsible for the Minions adapt such a sacred story.
But hey, different strokes for different folks. If this movie ever does get released and doesn’t get cancelled by some unforeseen incident, people are free to watch it if they want. Me, on the other hand, I’ll just be staying at home, wondering about the Grinch movie that we could have seen…