November means it’s the magical time of the year again. Of course I am talking about Cork Film Festival however if you thought that I meant Christmas and your a little disappointed, then I urge you to read on I may just have a little festive surprise for you. Last Saturday morning I had the pleasure of attending a pre-screening of Illumination Studios brand new adaptation of Dr Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Illumination of course are most well known for their Despicable Me franchise however they do have a few other hits under their belt such as The Secret Life Of Pets and Sing. I feel that The Grinch fits in nicely with the rest of their collection and whilst I don’t think it’s going to be a holiday classic like the original 1960s animated film. Nevertheless what Illumination have delivered is a fun and faithful adaptation to the source material, with updated animation and humour.
Now if you have seen any adaption of The Grinch in the past whether it be good or bad you already know how the story goes, Grinch feels neglected he hates the Who’s celebration of Christmas and he decides to steal it. The plot of this new adaption like I said is very faithful to the original so don’t expect any massive deviations or surprise twists like what we saw in Ron Howard’s disastrous adaptation starring Jim Carrey. However Illumination do make the decision to explore Grinch’s backstory a little more, showing us some of his tragic past as an orphan that led to him growing cold hearted and I personally feel that it helps to flush out the character and the world around him a little more. Benedict Cumberbatch provides the voice of the title character and whilst I felt he did an admirable job, I do feel however that he doesn’t really bring anything unique to the role however he is without a doubt a major improvement over Jim Carrey’s performance.
The animation in this film unsurprisingly is fantastic. Illumination have always had a strong animation team leading the artistic direction behind their films and I’m happy to say that without a doubt this is probably the most fully realized world they have created. Illumination have successfully taken the fantastical and abstract art design from the illustrations of Suess’s creations and have given it a modern makeover which draws the viewer in immediately. Whoville is such a fully realized world that it kind of makes me long for the Christmas’s of my childhood when I saw the real world with such a stroke of innocent and charm. This film provides a nice break from the overabundance of dark and quote on quote “realistic” worlds that Hollywood has been feeding us and I for one am glad for it.
If you have seen an Illumination film already then you are probably already aware of the type of humour and storytelling you are facing. A lot of the jokes are aimed squarely at a childhood demographic many of them being examples of toilet humour and slapstick gags. The plotline is also very simplistic and easy to follow however I know that Illumination try to target children more than adults with their films I was able to look past this. There are some moments of humour that will grab a laugh from both children and adults alike primarily drawn from Grinch and his relationship with his dog Max. If you are a fan of over the top cheesy Christmas specials like I am then you will enjoy this film, if your looking for something to take your family with you then check out The Grinch.
I want to close out by talking about how wonderful it was to be able to attend this event. The screening was part of the festivals family programme so obviously there was a large presence of parents and children at the screening. The festival organizers had a few surprises and treats waiting inside the doors of The Gate cinema, Firstly they held a treasure hunt around the area of the cinema which although I did not partake in it was nice to see families enjoying themselves. They also had a member of staff dressed up like The Grinch going around handing sweets to all the kids. However the single act that really moved me was the fact that the festival collected donations from different toy shops around the city and are planning to donate them to a Good Shepherd a charity who work with homeless women and children in Cork city. In my opinion simple acts of generosity such as this define the true meaning of christmas and I feel that the team behind Cork Film Festival deserve to be applauded for this. The Grinch will be available to general audiences from this week in cinemas nationwide.