The Grinch (2018) – A Movie Review

My six and ten-year-old daughters were very excited to see this latest rendition of Dr. Seuss’ classic, so I made a point to take them on opening night.  I believe they’ve seen the classic cartoon movie, but I don’t think they’ve ever seen the Jim Carrey live-action version.  This will be relevant later.

I have to be honest, for a Friday night, five o’clock showtime, the theater didn’t have many empty seats.  As you can imagine, most of those seats were occupied by people whose feet didn’t touch the ground.  It seems as though a lot of people were genuinely excited to see this.

At a brisk hour and a half, the new Grinch is perfect in terms of length.  It’s just long enough to tell a story, but brief enough to avoid anyone getting bored.

Well, most anyone.  More on that soon.

My daughters thought it was hilarious, cute, and delivered a nice message about reaching out to others while also forgiving past grievances.

So, for the kids, especially those who haven’t seen Jim Carrey’s version, this is probably a really cool movie.

That being said, I was bored silly.

In my opinion, you’ve already seen the best parts during the previews.  Otherwise, it hits most of the same beats as what you’ve seen before while adding new, unnecessary elements.  It’s nowhere near as clever as Jim Carrey’s movie, nor is it as entertaining.  Of course, I’m forty-one, so I’m sure I’m not this movie’s demographic.  And that’s totally fine.  I’ve got my Grinch movie, let the kids have theirs.  Just be prepared to take one for the team on this one–it’s not great.

However, there is much to appreciate.  The animation is absolutely beautiful.  The snow, the hair and fur, the Christmas lights–it’s all stunning.  The characters’ movements are also incredibly fluid and natural.  This movie looks good from an artistic and technical perspective.

There are also a few laugh-out-loud gags.  I wasn’t miserable, not by any stretch of the imagination.  And when I looked over at my kids, they both wore a smile ear-to-ear.  I honestly think your children will get a kick out of it.

Is it suitable for young children?  Absolutely.  In fact, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Grinch is the nicest Grinch you will have ever encountered.  He’s mean for maybe five minutes before he sees the errors of his ways, and he’s not even that mean.  This version is far more sanitized, wholesome, and family-friendly than ever before.

If you’re looking for a family movie, it’s hard to go wrong with 2018’s The Grinch.  The kids will love it, and it’s just short enough that the parents will be able to endure it without complaining …

Much.

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Grinch (2018)

(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Advertisements

Doctor Strange – A Movie Review

This is a Marvel movie unlike any other.  You will see insane special effects that absolutely transfix.  And though the movie is somewhat beholden to the cliched “origin story,” it does attempt, perhaps more so than ever before, to present a true journey to heroism.  In the end, though, it had a major flaw.

Doctor Strange is not a very heroic man in the beginning of the movie.  He is arrogant, egocentric, and concerned only with his work and resulting reputation.  Of course, the charming Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title character, so we can’t help but like Doctor Strange even as he is saying things that aren’t very charitable.  A terrible accident steals his sense of self-worth, and in traveling to the Far East, Strange enters a world that forces him to set aside his ego and eventually evolve into a hero.

As I already said, Doctor Strange has some amazing visuals.  It’s also got plenty of action, nice moments of humor, a strong attempt at character development, and it knows how to walk a delicate line between the relatively grounded Marvel Universe and the surreal world of Doctor Strange.

I appreciate that they avoided well-trodden romantic angles (though I think they wasted a very talented Rachel McAdams).  I like that they kept Doctor Strange somewhat limited because he is mostly a novice at the mystic arts.  I also thought it was smart to show us the progression of Strange from being self-centered into a man willing to sacrifice.

Did it have Ant-Man’s sense of fun?  No.  Was it as funny as Guardians Of the Galaxy?  Nope.  Was the physical action as intense as The Winter Soldier?  Not by a long shot.  Did it have Iron Man’s flat-out charisma?  It did not.  Yet it was not a disappointment because it had a little of all of those things.  It was just different from the other Marvel movies, and I mean that as a compliment because the super hero movie must find new ways to unfold if it is to retain an audience’s interest, and Doctor Strange fought to do just that.

In talking with a friend after seeing the movie, however, we decided the movie missed a major opportunity that ultimately left it flawed.

SPOILERS AHEAD …

Like so many movies of late, Doctor Strange ends with our hero facing down a previously unseen “big baddie” in an alternate, trippy dimension.  While I love the method Doctor Strange used to defeat the “big baddie,” and while it certainly solidified his metamorphosis into a hero, it felt a forced and emotionally unimportant.  A major issue super hero movies have is that the big fight at the end must utilize grander and grander stakes, and while Doctor Strange attempted to circumnavigate the typical final conflict with the “big baddie” by employing a clever solution, it still felt disconnected to the story preceding it because, like I said, we had no emotional stake in this “big baddie” before the final confrontation.

On the other hand, Doctor Strange had an excellent ending gift-wrapped and ready to explore, but instead went with the “big baddie” approach.  Doctor Strange must confront The Ancient One near the end of the movie, and, by this point, we all love The Ancient One. She has a connection to the main villains present throughout the film, and by having Doctor Strange defeat her using the exact same technique as he did the “big baddie,” those villains could have lost their conduit to the “Dark Dimension” mentioned throughout the film.  Having a hero reluctantly defeat his teacher, and having a teacher forced to fight her student is the stuff of great depth and while the creators definitely could have wandered into cliched territory with this approach, I think the audience would have been far more invested in it as a final conflict.

Doctor Strange is visually stunning, has charismatic actors playing the leads, attempts a story told differently, but falls victim to many super hero movie mistakes, particularly that of the disconnected “big baddie.”

Image result for dr strange movie poster