Second “Grinch” Trailer Shows More Slapstick

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A second trailer has been released for The Grinch, highlighting the film’s comedic moments while also hinting at the title character’s tragic backstory.

The movie is based on the classic 1957 book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. It tells the story of the Grinch (played in this version of Benedict Cumberbatch), a curmudgeonly creature who lives on a mountain near the village of Whoville. The Grinch can’t stand Christmas, and when the Whos decide to make their celebration three times bigger than ever, he decides to strike back by dressing up as Santa and stealing all their decorations and presents in the middle of the night.

The story was most famously adapted in the 1966 TV special which airs every year; a live-action film, ”Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” came out in 2000, starring Jim Carrey. That version is somewhat divisive, due to its darker and more mean-spirited tone, particularly with the Whos.

The new movie, which comes out November 9, looks like it will stick to the books in having the mean ol’ Grinch juxtaposed to cheerful, friendly Whos. Perhaps the biggest change we see in the trailer is an emphasis on cartoony slapstick—for example, we see him sending his dog, Max, into town on a drone, only to crash him, and also watch as he tries to catch a reindeer, a facet of his plan not used in previous adaptations. This makes the Grinch less intimidating than in the TV special, but (hopefully) not as prone to toilet humor as in the 2000 version.

It is only in a brief scene that the trailer suggests a deeper exploration of the story—in a brief flashback, we see the Grinch as a young child imagining a room full of Christmas cheer, only to reveal that it’s an empty room in an orphanage; he then gazes jealously out the window at the town below. This, we assume, is his genesis of his Scrooge-like hatred for the holiday.

Given that the book and cartoon paint the Grinch as mean for no reason, expanding on his backstory is an obvious route for feature-length adaptations; the 2000 version did as well. Hopefully, this one will manage to make him more sympathetic without making the Whos look like bullying jerks, a delicate balancing act that ends with everyone joining together in holiday cheer.

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