WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Grinch, in theaters now.
Universal Pictures' The Grinch is yet another adaptation of the beloved Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, following in the footsteps of the 1966 television special and the 2000 film starring Jim Carrey. This time, the titular character is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch as he looks to literally steal Christmas from the residents of idyllic Whoville.
Eventually, he sees the error of his ways and turns into a kindhearted soul by movie's end. But rather than chart a course for a sequel with the Grinch helping to improve Whoville, the studio has a great opportunity to for a cross over with another one of its popular 3-D animated franchises, Despicable Me.
The Grinch has a lot in common with Despicable Me, after all. The latter is also focused on a former villain, Gru (Steve Carell), who turned to a life of good when he realized the joy mankind had to offer. A crossover makes sense, given the same animation studio, Illumination, is responsible for bringing both properties to life; there's common ground, not only in terms of narrative, but also in regard to the visual aesthetic.
Story-wise, Despicable Me could use an injection like this, as the franchise has gotten a bit stale with Gru repeatedly fighting off villains he once considered allies. The last chapter had him battling his brother Dru (Trey Parker), and ended with him in hot pursuit of his sibling yet again. So rather than jump straight into a repeat of that rivalry, why not square him off against the Grinch? The Grinch also needs some spice to it, and Cumberbatch's character doesn't really have an antagonist, so a feud between the two like-minded individuals would be as intriguing as it is funny.
They're cut from the same cloth, after all, having experienced terrible childhoods, only to recover after losing faith in mankind. Basically, you have two antiheroes who need foils, so it really is a match made in CGI heaven. Plus, the thought of these two making each other better men, father-figures and seekers of justice holds so much potential.
What's also interesting is it wouldn't just be these two sourpusses going up against each other, but their families as well. With the Grinch now cozying up to Cindy-Lou, her mom and her siblings, he now has the family he's always yearned for. This could create a fun rivalry with Gru, his wife Lucy and their adorable daughters, similar to the Cheaper By the Dozen movies.
Families led by villains turned heroes practically writes itself as a grand adventure to see who can outdo the other when it comes to saving the world -- whether it's against villains like Dru or someone else entirely. Not to mention, we can see the Grinch's genius dog, Max, giving Gru's Minions a run for their money.
Universal has an opportunity to play it smart and capitalize on these animated cash cows. All the ingredients are already present for this fun-filled family mash-up, and with Grinch's new inner-circle needing direction for a sequel and Gru's family looking for new challenges, a crossover is ultimately the best way to freshen up one franchise and revamp the other.
The Grinch, directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney, stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Ariel Winter, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely and Angela Lansbury. The film is currently in theaters now.