Happy Holidays from Filmnetic! In this special edition of Filmnetic Face-off, we will break down two holiday classics that seem to have come head-to-head this Christmas. For nearly two decades, Universal’s live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been a holiday staple for families worldwide. This Christmas, however, it seems that another version has begun to take its place.
Anyone who has paid close attention to Netflix and iTunes has noticed that Illuminations animated version, The Grinch, has been far more popular this holiday season. When this article is written, the animated version is at No. 2 on the iTunes charts, while the live-action version is at No. 24. For context, the live-action version dominated the charts in the top five every year until 2020.
Audiences now seem to be splitting their attention between the two versions of the story, so how do the two compare to one another? Ultimately, everyone has different opinions on animation and live-action in general. Still, it’s rare to see an animated remake of a live-action film (excluding the animated tv-special and original source material). The live-action version of the Grinch was the definitive version for many, but now that audiences have shown interest in the 2018 animated version, let’s objectively compare the two and determine the winner in this week’s Filmnetic Face-off.
Live-Action Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a holiday staple for many. It’s up there with the traditional heavy hitters Elf, Home Alone, A Christmas Story, and so on. Its ability to capture the magic of Christmas with heart, humor, and technical prowess makes it more than earn its spot up there with the other Christmas classics.
Most will agree that the cherry on top of the film is Jim Carrey’s legendary performance as Mr. Grinch. The film was Carrey at his best. It was a role he was born to play, and it was a role that he will always be remembered for. Carrey has done many similar zany, comedic roles since the Grinch, but the same magic has never been captured since the 2000 film.
Beyond Carrey’s performance, the film perfectly captures the magic of Dr. Suess in live-action. The sets, make-up, acting, and story all work together to create an immersive experience in Whoville. The script is chocked full of classic jokes and gags that audiences can quote two decades later. The film does have one shortcoming, however: it’s a little outdated for newer viewers.
This complaint comes directly from the mouths of people I have shown it to recently. They have all said the movie seems dated and not up to modern standards, which is fair considering the limitations of filmmaking 20 years ago. Still, this complaint has some merit for those who have watched the film for years because of the limitations of live-action in general.
Animated Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
Although it’s a newer addition to the holiday line-up, Illumination’s take on the Grinch seems to be on course to become a Christmas classic. It did not make a huge splash the year it came out, but neither did most holiday classics, including the live-action version. It seems to be following the pattern of movies of Christmas past, so get ready to add it to your Christmas line-up.
By far, the biggest strength of the animated version of the Grinch is, well, the animation. Animation has always been a medium to create things that were not possible in live-action. Even with modern advancements, animation still seems to be the best medium to create a story with as much extravagance and imagination as The Grinch. The film is beautiful to look at and does as much to capture the magic of Christmas as the live-action version does.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s version of Mr. Grinch is incredible as well. While not quite as iconic and inventive as Carrey’s, Cumberbatch continues to show impressive range in his work, which could be argued to put him ahead of Carrey as an actor. Carrey is undoubtedly talented, but he can only play one type of character incredibly well. However, Cumberbatch has the ability to transform himself for his roles, which can be seen throughout his career. Overall, Cumberbatch is a better actor, but Carrey was born to play roles like the Grinch.
One downfall of the film is its overall forgettability. It’s a classic story with a classic message, but beyond its animation and performances, it does not add much to the plot of the classic tale. It does not bring the same level of comedy that Carrey is capable of, and it does not make up for it by adding additional elements to flesh out the original story.
This verdict can sway either way, especially in future years. The animated version of the Grinch has not been tested against time the way the live-action version has. While the animated Grinch can, of course, gain perceived quality points later down the line, the live-action version has more than stood the test of time, making it the winner of this Filmnetic Face-off
WINNER: Live-Action How the Grinch Stole Christmas
What do you think of our pick? Let us know what Grinch you think is the best down below, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.