Feature Film

Illumination’s ‘The Grinch’: First Trailer And A Late Directorial Shake-Up

A trailer has finally arrived for Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!:

It’s the eighth fully-animated feature from the studio responsible for giving Minions to the world, and the company’s second Dr. Seuss adaptation following its 2012 film The Lorax.

The big news here is today’s revelation that Gorillaz music video director Pete Candeland, who had been the director of the film since it was first announced five years ago, is no longer the director.

The Grinch directing team is now comprised of Yarrow Cheney (co-director of Secret Life of Pets) and Scott Mosier, the longtime producing partner of Kevin Smith on films like Clerks and Chasing Amy.

Cheney had already jumped on board as co-director a couple years back, but Mosier, who will make his feature directorial debut, is a new addition. That’s not to say though that he’s new to the film; he had been working on The Grinch as a producer prior to stepping into the director’s spot.

Studio animation features are often a game of directors musical chairs, but this change is particularly curious because Candeland had been associated with the project for a long time. Usually, it doesn’t take a studio five years to decide that a director isn’t a good fit for a project. Why Candeland left, what he contributed to the finished film, and which credit (if any) he’ll receive on the finished film are all unknowns at this point.

But what is clear from the trailer (and the NBC Olympics tie-ins, an example of Comcast-NBCUniversal corporate synergy at its most finely-tuned) is that The Grinch will likely be another huge success for Illumination. It’s appealingly crafted, and the trailer does a good job of hitting the familiar Seuss beats, while giving the Grinch a subtly evolved personality.

Led by Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, the story follows the general outline of the original story, but adds some new twists, including a B story about Cindy-Lou Who plotting to trap Santa Claus so that she can thank him for helping her harried single mother.

The script was written by Michael LeSieur (You, Me and Dupree, The Maiden Heist, Keeping Up with the Joneses). Here’s the official synopsis:

The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl’s generous holiday spirit. Funny, heartwarming and visually stunning, it’s a universal story about the spirit of Christmas and the indomitable power of optimism.

Academy Award-nominee Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbors in Who-ville when he runs out of food.

Each year at Christmas they disrupt his tranquil solitude with their increasingly bigger, brighter and louder celebrations. When the Whos declare they are going to make Christmas three times bigger this year, the Grinch realizes there is only one way for him to gain some peace and quiet: he must steal Christmas. To do so, he decides he will pose as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, even going so far as to trap a lackadaisical misfit reindeer to pull his sleigh.

Meanwhile, down in Who-ville, Cindy-Lou Who—a young girl overflowing with holiday cheer—plots with her gang of friends to trap Santa Claus as he makes his Christmas Eve rounds so that she can thank him for help for her overworked single mother. As Christmas approaches, however, her good-natured scheme threatens to collide with the Grinch’s more nefarious one. Will Cindy-Lou achieve her goal of finally meeting Santa Claus? Will the Grinch succeed in silencing the Whos’ holiday cheer once and for all?

The Grinch will be out in U.S. theaters on November 9, 2018.