Last weekend I saw The Grinch. Done by the same team who did Despicable Me and the voice of Mr. Grinch was Benedict Cumberbatch. If you have ever seen Jim Carrey’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas in 2000, the new movie puts the Christmas Spirit back into Mr. Grinch. But there was one little detail that nagged me in the new movie: where was Cindy Lou’s father?
When we first meet Cindy Lou, the little girl is on a mission to deliver a letter to Santa Claus. After a wild bobsled ride across the snow-covered rooftops of Whoville, she collides with Mr. Grinch and fails to reach the mail carrier in time. She then becomes determine to speak to Santa Claus in person. After being informed by her mother that Christmas would be over if she walked to the North Pole, Cindy Lou decides to trap Santa Claus when he shows up to deliver Christmas presents at her house.
Why does Cindy Lou need to speak to Santa Claus so badly?
Cindy Lou’s mother is a single parent raising a young daughter and infant twin boys during the day and works a night job. The movie makes no mention of Cindy Lou’s father. Did he stepped out for a pack of cigarettes and never came back? Whoville has always been portrayed as every Who being related to every other Who in one big happy family.
When “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!” was written in 1957, nuclear families were the norm, broken homes were frowned upon, and nothing was worse than being an orphan without a family. Being an unwelcomed orphan made Mr. Grinch bitter against the Whovians because they had something that he didn’t have. That Cindy Lou lives in a household without a father was a silent oddity that stood out more to me than the fact that Mr. Grinch was a What and not a Who.
When Cindy Lou does speak to Mr. Grinch, disguised as Santa Claus, she asks that he help her mother because her mother’s life was unfair and made no specific demands. That, of course, became the life-changing conversation for Mr. Grinch. This little girl asked for someone else rather than for herself. Mr. Grinch returns the stolen Christmas decorations and presents, confesses his sins, and apologizes to the good citizens of Whoville.
Cindy Lou later invites Mr. Grinch for Christmas dinner at her house. He shows up in a tie and accepts being part of the extended family. As for Cindy Lou’s mother, her situation haven’t changed from raising kids during the day and working at night.
While it’s understandable that Hollywood wants to update a timeless classic to reflect modern society by including a single parent, I’m not sure removing Cindy Lou’s father from the new movie was an improvement on the original story.