While our staff at The Globe often produces reviews of the newest movies, shows and music releases, sometimes there comes a piece of media that is so impactful or prolific that we all feel the need to use our critical voices in a feat of analysis. This is one of those times.
Where to stream: Hulu
Running Time: 1 hr 32 mins
Jordyn Hronec, Editor-in-Chief:
Dr Seuss’ the Grinch Musical was released this year as a recorded TV version of the Broadway musical that was based on Dr. Seuss’ original book, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
And only could the year 2020 deliver to us something so aggressively awful to view.
To begin, there were a few choices made in the musical adaptation of this classic story that are pretty unagreeable. Max, the Grinch’s dog companion, is split into two separate roles, an older version of Max who narrates the story and occasionally enters to romp around with Young Max, who is stuck helping the Grinch with his deeds. Young Max is played by Booboo Stewart, who is quite the young acting talent. This role, where he spends most of the show on his hands and knees, is not a good showcase of his range.
And then there’s the elephant in the room. The worst part of this production, by far, is the portrayal of its titular role, by none other than Matthew Morrison. Mr. Shuester himself.
And that’s really the problem here. This Grinch is just Mr. Schue, but in a green fuzzy suit and green stage makeup. I admittedly haven’t seen Morrison in anything else but Glee, but this performance did not do him any favors in proving him to be a versatile performer.
Other portrayals of the Grinch, in the book, the original animation, Jim Carrey’s version, h*ll, even the 2018 animated version where he’s voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, are unique portrayals, where the Grinch has just a little something different to him each time. The original version of the character is honestly perfect. It’s the reason why the Grinch’s story is still incredibly popular during the holiday season. Jim Carrey’s portrayal was a diversion from the original, but it was complex. His Grinch was dirty and gross and slimy and scary. But even though Jim Carrey was, like Morrison, a man in a suit, he still felt like a creature. He felt animalistic. Matthew Morrison’s Grinch feels like Matthew Morrison. I am watching Matthew Morrison steal Christmas. And that’s not even the worst part.
I am watching Matthew Morrison, in a green fuzzy suit with an equally green edgy sad boy hair fringe, trying to be sexy while stealing Christmas.
And for what? As Morrison’s Grinch thrusts around the stage, I am forced to ask myself, Is this not a family program? As he sensually breaks the fourth wall to look into the sex-hungry eyes of every middle-aged mother, I wonder, should I cover my pet cat’s eyes?
Honestly, if you told me that this was just an episode of Glee, where Mr. Schue is the Grinch and the New Directions are the Whos of Whoville (complete with Rachel Berry annoying us to no end as little Cindy Lou Who,) I’d believe you. And maybe I wouldn’t judge it so harshly, because that would be pretty on par for Glee.
All I can positively say about this production is that the child actors it employs are very talented for their age. But not even a cute Cindy Lou Who ballad or a timely quip about social distancing can save this production from being the worst rendition of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas that has ever been made.
Jake Dabkowski, Co-News Editor:
I do not think that I can give this abomination a score out of five, but I know that I deserve a Pulitzer for watching even a minute of this. And I didn’t watch much more than that, because I turned it off after the third song. I hope that every single senior executive involved in the production of this is fired. How they went from Jesus Christ Superstar to this is genuinely baffling and feels sacrilegious.
Sarah Gibson, Co-Opinions Editor:
When I watched the first half of this movie, I was slipping into a confused, lightheaded brain fog that was caused by a combination of dehydration and exhaustion during finals. In all honesty, I thought the thing was just so darn ugly and bizarre that it was making me dizzy. It wasn’t until my partner came home and let me know that movies don’t tend to make you dizzy, and asked how much water I had been drinking, that I realized that what I was experiencing was mostly a medical issue, and not some sort of weird self-inflicted body sabotage taken as punishment for watching Matthew Morrison try to make the Grinch sexy.
I stand by that initial reaction, though. My body deserved to punish me for forcing it to process this musical. The Grinch is Seussical if you forced people who had only ever been in “Phantom of the Opera” to do it. It was bizarre, unfunny, and the characterization of the Grinch was so genuinely bad it made me wonder if Matthew Morrison had seen a single piece of Grinch media in his life. It’s like taking the Jim Carrey Grinch, sanitizing it, scrapping every narrative choice that made it shine, and dunking it in the vat of chemicals that turned the Red Hood into The Joker. This musical’s quality of existence serves as its own revenge for whoever thought this was a good idea in the first place.
Kylie Thomas, Co-Features/A&E Editor:
I should’ve known whenever it was announced that Mathew Morrison would be playing the Grinch that this was going to be a train wreck disguised in Christmas tinsel.
To start, Max is one of my favorite characters, I’ve even considered getting a tattoo of the little, lovable, reserved dog. However, this characterization of Max being a hyperactive, irritating dog played by BooBoo Stewart just feels wrong.
It only continues to go downhill from there as Morrison portrays the Grinch as such an uncomfortable, sexual creature that will never leave my nightmares. I swear this feature is just an hour and a half of Morrison constantly moaning and staring into the camera with a sexual nature.
To be exact, one of the Grinch’s main feature songs, “One of a Kind,” may be the most painful, intolerable performances to ever be on stage. The Grinch thrusting and groaning about the stage, just doesn’t seem like a children’s movie character. In fact, by this point in the movie I’ve forgotten this was supposed to be related to “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” and it just feels like a vague, fever dream with random creatures.
Granted, most of the Whos bring the only talent that’s seen throughout the entire special. The Who children make Broadway magic come to life with their great choreography and harmonious choruses.
While this special could’ve been a great chance to bring some holiday cheer and Broadway razzmatazz to families this season, it ended up being a flop with all due credit to Morrison. Truly, if Morrison looks into my eyes through this camera one more time, I’ll burst into tears at that creepy, stalker-like stare.