Over the past couple decades, children’s movies that take on dark undertones have become more and more common. Pixar’s most recent release, Coco, explores the concept of death. Finding Nemo begins with Nemo’s mother being brutally slaughtered alongside hundreds of her unborn children. And we all know about Up’s lighthearted opening in which a miscarriage causes a marriage to fail, then when things seem to be getting patched up the wife gets sick and dies.
Despite the fact that plenty of children’s films have gone dark in the recent past, the recently announced Grinch origin story that’s slated to open next Christmas may top them all. At least conceptually, it seems to me that there is a zero percent chance that people are going to walk out of the theater feeling happy after this one.
The point of an origin story is to show us how a character got to where he is when we first see him in the original source material. Assuming this movie will do this, let’s look at where the Grinch is at the beginning of his original Dr. Seuss story.
The Grinch is an outcast, despised by everyone in Whoville so much that he has secluded himself atop a mountain where he spends his days brooding and despising everything. The only bit of affection he has is for his dog, and he displays this affection by mentally abusing him and treating him like a slave.
If we assume that this was the Grinch’s inherent nature, How the Grinch Stole Christmas becomes a feel good story. The spirit of Christmas turns this cold hearted creature into a loving and caring member of the community. However, this origin story throws a wrench in things. Now, it looks like the Grinch was once innocent, and was corrupted by the people of Whoville. I’d hate Christmas too if the people I heard singing Christmas songs every year were the ones who ran me out of town and made a song about how they wouldn’t touch me with a thirty nine and a half foot pole.
The reason that this movie might be the darkest of them all is the fact that things are going to start off good then somehow the Grinch is going to turn into the sick twisted creature we see at the beginning of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. All the movies I mentioned at the beginning start off depressing then end up being a feel good story. In this one, the tagline, “he gets meaner,” basically gives away the plot of the entire movie. The Grinch is going to start off as an innocent lad, then be subjected to a 90 minute emotional battering where he ends up hating everyone and everything. Should be fun for the whole family!