To put it simply, lately animated reboots and I have a weird relationship. In fact, I feel that this is actually true for most people who have been paying attention to what Warner Bros., Illumination Entertainment, and Sony have been regurgitating lately. While many justly gripe and moan about productions such as The Smurfs, Yogi Bear, and Alvin and the Chipmunks, there have been a few bright spots as well. For example, while I wouldn’t say they deserve any sort of fanfare, The Lorax and, of course, Space Jam, deserve some credit to their names as they do not completely tarnish the name of their original brand. Heck, The Lorax kept me locked in and engaged throughout the duration, whereas I don’t anticipate The Smurfs 2 will have the ability to even hold down my lunch.
So this puts us in a very unstable relationship in terms of these reboots featuring the characters of bygone eras once again on the big screen, trying sometimes helplessly, sometimes with mild success, to entertain today’s restless, demanding audiences. However there is something that all of these reboots lack: a story that has been defined as a classic in books, on television, and in theaters. The one series that does meet this description is Dr. Seuss’ Christmas classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas which will be released by Illumination in the coming years, according to variety.com In the article, published Thursday, February 7th, 2013, the reboot will be helmed by new director Pete Candeland (animator on Balto, “Aladdin: The Animated Series”). Though much is uncertain (writers have yet to be named, and a release date is yet to be confirmed), it seems that the studio will stay true to the book’s three-act structure, which it had to partially create for The Lorax. What I find most interesting however is that the film will focus on “underlying tones of the book” and also the extreme attitudes of Cindy Lou Who’s optimism and the Grinch’s pessimism.
These statements give me hope. From them we know that, if the production is actually carried out focusing on these aspects, we won’t be seeing Chuck Jones’ cartoon remade with modern technology. And this isn’t to say I dislike the Jones version, rather I find it to be the baseline from of which we can judge the reboot. While Jim Carrey’s 2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas provides a few laughs during the holiday season, I see the film as being merely a surface adaption of the original book. What could potentially happen with Illumination’s reboot is an exploration of relationships. If Illumination explores Seuss’ symbols rooted in the characters and leaves most of its gags at the door, the studio could ultimately find that they have the ability to create a modern adaption of a classic without embarrassing the originals, those being the Chuck Jones television special and the original storybook. I for one am excited for this. You can see glimpses of high-caliber storytelling in The Lorax and Despicable Me, but it just ends up being clouded over too quickly by cheesy jokes or gags. If they hone in on their story and the relationships they display, we will see an animated film that has the ability to rival Pixar’s productions, causing everybody in the industry to step up their game, which right now is gradually becoming needed.