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The Grinch Reviews Are In, Here’s What The Critics Think

Benedict Cumberbatch's animated Grinch

Whether you're a fan of original book, the 1966 animated TV special or the 2000 live action movie, the How The Grinch Stole Christmas! story has been a Christmas staple for decades. The latest adaptation, titled Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, puts Dr. Seuss' creation through a computer animated lens from the folks at Illumination Entertainment. With The Grinch finally arriving in theaters this weekend (it was originally supposed to come last year), reviews for the movie are now pouring in, and while it doesn't sound like it will become the most cherished of Christmas movies, there's still a fair amount from it to enjoy.

Starting off, CinemaBlend's own Dirk Libbey awarded The Grinch 3.5 out of 5 stars in his review, noting that while it won't become the definitive version of the story," it's a much better cinematic out than the Jim Carrey-led Grinch movie from nearly two decades ago. Dirk also mentioned that although seeing the familiar Grinch elements in this movie will just remind you that they've been handled better before in a much shorter run time, the new material, such as the side plot of Cindy Lou Who trying to capture Santa Claus for her mother and the Grinch's (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) new backstory, actually elevates The Grinch.

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch may not be the best version of this story ever told, but it doesn't have to be. It's a warm and fun story that has enough warmth and charm to be exactly what many families will be looking for during the holiday season.

Empire Magazine's Amy West had similar feelings about The Grinch in her review, giving it 3 out of 5 stars. In Amy's opinion, in its efforts to be a child-friendly movie, The Grinch ends up being a "a safe and often sickeningly sweet film" that's more concerned with the 'Christmas is about being with loved ones, not presents' message than adding anything new to the story. That said, it does help that The Grinch boasts some clever visual gags.

Despite its story-telling ambition being two sizes too small (much like its hairy protagonist's heart), The Grinch is impossibly cute, visually rich and boasts enough festive fun to satisfy young viewers.

Collider's Matt Goldberg wasn't quite as kind to The Grinch in his review. Giving it a C grade, Goldberg states that the movie, like Illumination's previous movies, doesn't rise above mediocrity, preferring to highlight antics and gags over an emotional story, resulting in something that's "safe and disposable."

It's not that The Grinch is an awful movie as much as it's simply straining to fill time, and while there's some creativity in the production design and Benedict Cumberbatch does some really good voice work, ultimately you can't help but feel like this is a bauble designed to distract children for an hour and a half.

Michael Rechtshaffen from The Hollywood Reporter felt that The Grinch did a good job of resembling the original book and TV special than the live action movie did, and with the new elements (like making the eponymous character more complex and adding the reindeer Fred to accompany Grinch and his dog Max) and "visual energy," particularly with the design of Whoville, there's plenty to appreciate from this latest adaptation.

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch is a vibrant, amusing CG animated feature that gives the big mean, green guy a kinder, gentler makeover.

Jesse Hassenger from The AV Club, on the other hand, gave The Grinch a C grade, calling it a "a more meager, timid iteration of Seuss' story." In Jesse's opinion, the movie doesn't do a good enough job registering Grinch as an outcast, instead coming across as "a sitcom's cranky upstairs neighbor," despite his new backstory.

Illumination's focus on cartoon villainy should set it apart. But by this point, the filmmakers have softened the very concept of 'bad' into just another bowl of brightly colored sugary mush.

Birth.Movies.Death.'s Michael Gingold also felt that The Grinch was an improvement over the live action movie, but ultimately the new attempt to rationalize the green-furred grump's meanness still falls short. The visuals of The Grinch are top-notch, but the rest doesn't compare to what we saw in the Boris Karloff-led animated special over 50 years ago.

The Grinch will no doubt provide a satisfying holiday diversion for family audiences, and little kids will probably dig it, but we older grinches who grew up on that TV version can only hope that someone doesn't try yet another unnecessary movie 18 years from now.

Finally, The Wrap's Alonso Duralde stated in his review that The Grinch is "bright, both in its color palette and in the wit and liveliness of the storytelling." There are some missteps, to be sure, but it manages to expand the tale without taking away the charm of the original, and it shines best when its focus is on Whoville.

Purists may balk about revisiting this tale, but The Grinch earns its laughter and its sentiment, both of which are plentiful. It's a full-throated Fah-Who-Foraze.

Christmas movies are often be hit or miss, and judging by these reviews for The Grinch (just some of many), it falls right in the middle. It won't exceed the popularity of the original book or the TV program, and the efforts to stretch out the story to an 86-minute runtime may not necessarily be to your liking. But The Grinch also doesn't sound remotely like a train wreck, and if you're looking for a little holiday cheer on the big screen, this could be worth checking out. At the very least, The Grinch should entertain the young moviegoers like most of Illumination's previous movies have.

You can judge The Grinch for yourself when it arrives this Friday, November 9, and be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. If you're interested in learning what other movies are coming out before the year is over, head to our 2018 release schedule. Or you can get a head start on next year's theatrical offerings with our 2019 release schedule.

Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.