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"The Grinch": More Science Than Art

By Shannon C. White
On December 6, 2018

"The Grinch" is Illumination's magnum opus of crowd-pleasing.
Photo Courtesy of IMDb

“The Grinch” is cute. That may not seem like an insult, but it is not a compliment by any extent either. This film is far from terrible. It may truly be tolerable for parents and entertaining for young children. The movie will be fine if one needs some piece of entertainment to control their children for a couple hours without the need for a tablet. Granted, it deserves more than just a paragraph of semi-critical thought and review, starting off with the basics.

“The Grinch,” an Illumination production, is a reimagining of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” starring Jim Carrey, which was a live-action remake of the 1996 animated television special “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which was based off the classic children’s Christmas book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” written by Dr. Seuss.

The story of the creation and retellings of the green menace are almost as mind-boggling and interesting as the actual rhyme-tastic book and character that all of this is based around, especially when one digs into Illumination and its CEO and owner, Chris Melendandri.

Melendandri got his start at Disney when he was an executive producer for the surprise hit “Cool Runnings.” He soon moved onto Fox, where he helped grow the previously unknown Blue Sky Studios into a household name, his efforts obviously including the endless “Ice Age” saga and more notably “Horton Hears a Who!,” another Dr. Seuss story. He left soon after to start Illumination Entertainment, taking with him plenty of Blue Sky Studios employees, which explains why the animation styles between the two separate entities are nearly the same.

Illumination started off with the major hit “Despicable Me,” which created those soulless yellow hellions that have possibly been milked for more money than the other animated yellow entity, who is owned by Viacom and lives in a prickly fruit at the bottom of the shallow blue. “Despicable Me” was then followed with the unpopular “Hop,” which was quickly forgotten when “The Lorax” was released, yet another Dr. Seuss adaptation from Melendandri.

This would be a good time to point out how inexpensive Illumination movies are to produce compared to other big animated hits.

“The Lorax” cost around $70 million to produce, which sounds like a large sum of cash, until one compares this with another popular animated movie that came out the same year. “Wreck-It-Ralph” cost over double the budget of “The Lorax,” at about $175 million to produce. Considering that “Wreck-It-Ralph” only made $122 million more in box office profit than the “The Lorax,” one could make the argument that “The Lorax” is a better investment, since Illumination spends less on its films and makes about the same profit as their competition. While the company may seem frugal in spending, they are most certainly the opposite in making sure that its appeal is universal.

Illumination is a mastermind at perfectly crafting all-natural artificial cinema for the masses. The studio spends most of its budgets getting celebrity voice actors such as Taylor Swift, Steve Carrel, Seth MacFarlane and the like. Illumination almost always makes sure its movies are based on or around a piece of mainstream culture, such as popular music in “Sing,” beloved furry friends in “The Secret Life of Pets” or even childhood memories with the “The Lorax” and especially “The Grinch.”

If the studio does not have anything well known to use for a movie, it will turn to making its own pieces of pop culture, as it did with “Despicable Me,” with the overalls-wearing abominations.

“The Grinch” is Illumination’s magnum opus of crowd pleasing, not only luring in the everyday kids with their parents and grandparents, but also plenty of teenagers with Benedict Cumberbatch as the lead, an actor who has won over an army of under and overaged fans due to his depictions of both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Strange. Illumination even tried to sneak its way into the “cool rebel kids” crowd by bringing in Pharrell Williams to narrate and the infamous Tyler, the Creator to drop a few tracks for the film, not to mention a relatable struggling single mom, some cute animal, and a kindhearted anti-grinch for the small-hearted fiend to have as a sort of next-door neighbor and counterpart.

No one should be ashamed to watch or even enjoy “The Grinch,” especially when watched with family, friends, significant others and so on, not only because the movie is a pure wholesome experience, but also because they are surrounded by those they care about. And is that not the true lesson of “The Grinch,” that it does not matter what one has, but who one has? Perhaps “The Grinch” is the perfect Christmas movie for showing everyone what really matters.

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