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All Grinch’d Out

If there’s a revelation in this new animated version of The Grinch, it’s that he wears pants. It isn’t fur covering his bottom half. Early in The Grinch, he’s wearing briefs. He then covers those with green, fur leggings of some kind. That begs the question if the other versions ever depicted The Grinch without pants – and would anyone know?

Illumination does what they can with this source material. Their work feels less invasive than it did in The Lorax. Now it’s a story of a single mother, raising three kids, and infinitely overworked. Yet, she’s still happy, loving, and caring. Schmaltzy, really.

Then there’s The Ginch, bitter and cold, but less so now. He doesn’t torment his dog anymore. The build-up to his plot to snatch presents isn’t as cruel either. Sure, he destroys a kid’s snowman, but this is small time compared to the ‘60s TV adaptation or the surreal live action Jim Carrey Grinch.

The Grinch … blends together with other Illumination properties as if part of the same universe

The Grinch is a “what’s old is new again” take on this story. In the end, the themes remain, pushing aside Christmas’ transformation into a materialist holiday. This is about spending time with people, accentuated in this Grinch. Benedict Cumberbatch voices this iteration, gravely voiced as he mourns his own isolation, caused by an orphanage stay. A bolder take on this story might attach some religious connotations, a “reason for the season” approach, but Illumination’s take is ultimately broad faced.

In the end, it’s childhood innocence that saves the citizens of Whoville from their grumpy neighbor. Cindy-Lou Who only wants her mother to be happy, a warmth that penetrates the Grinch’s two-sizes-too-small heart. Character design is maximized as to make the kids delightfully adorable, and the town architecture rotund in a pleasing way. That counters The Grinch’s angular abode. Production design captures the nuances of Dr. Seuss’ original book, even with the hyperactive color and 3D citizens.

The real test is whether there’s lasting value to this Grinch. At only 80-minutes, there’s a time slot waiting for it on NBC, right next to the ‘60s icon. While only retrospect will tell years from now, this 2018 version feels of the now, as opposed to the timelessness of old. Like the live action remake and it’s overstayed ‘90s wonkiness, The Grinch infuses pop music and blends together with other Illumination properties as if part of the same universe. The key is familiarity for the sake of box office. But The Grinch’s story is already familiar. At least it’s a harmless time waster.

Video (4K UHD)

A blistering palette of color glows endlessly throughout The Grinch. While plentiful in terms of Christmas reds and greens, don’t ignore the bevy of other hues. All of the multi-colored lights covering houses beam from this Dolby Vision presentation. Pure whites reflect from snow-covered ground. Yellow homes glisten, and Grinch green needs inducted into the UHD hall of fame.

There’s brightness intensity too, with towers of lights shimmering. Using the full gamut, pushing nits, long shots of Whoville bathe in their décor. A short scene in a light maze can illuminate an entire room on its own; it’ll do so beautifully too.The Grinchis a masterclass in how not everything is about resolution alone.

Don’t take that the wrong way. The Grinch features splendid texture too. Everyone in Whoville is covered in fur. Expect to see individual strands of hair. A bevy of wool Christmas sweaters show notable fuzz down to small strands. And the snow? How incredible. As characters trudge through, every flake is given flawless definition.

Video (Blu-ray)

Reference grade 1080p video is encoded onto this disc. A powerhouse of color and saturation, The Grinch looks expansive and pure in terms of color replication. Watching is equivalent to swimming in a sea of primaries, with an additional injection of intensity.

Nothing sours the detail. The display of absolute sharpness works out the complexities of fur. Massive amounts of long shots pick out the texture of Whoville without aliasing, and that’s impressive downsampling work.


Living in Whoville means being among constant sound. Cheery residents and shops create a wall of sound. Ambiance never lets go as long as visual activity is present. Wide, careful front soundstage use makes sure to track dialog, even when just off to the left or right of the frame. Action scenes involve plenty of traveling effects, bouncing between channels with effortless sweeps.

Moderate LFE bounce adds weight to fat reindeer steps, the sleigh’s movements, and other needed elements. Full power never hits a truly beefy tier though. Like a lot of animation, the Atmos mix sounds like it’s holding back, adding the minimum.


The typical selection of mini-movies (three of them this time, including Minion shorts) from Illumination offer a few laughs. There’s a brief making-of those shorts too. Six featurettes run all too short, although do dive into some animation challenges. Adapting Suess’ style into 3D was difficult for the French animation team. Mostly though, this is a derivative selection of extras. A bit of music, a screensaver-esque fireplace, and a look at the production babies round things out.

The Grinch
  • Video (4K UHD)
  • Video (Blu-ray)
  • Audio
  • Extras


Illumination’s take on The Grinch isn’t a massive re-imagining, but it’s serviceable, fast, and has enough laughs for at least one spin.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 38 full 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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