So far, the Grinch has been adapted twice.
One may be naughty and the other was nice, so where does this latest one come in?
It may not be perfect, but it won’t leave you green.
Okay, just so you know, this whole review will not be in rhyme.
Yes, it’s the third time for the Grinch to be brought to us after the 1966 animated Boris Karloff classic and the 2000 live-action version with Jim Carrey. I’m somewhere in between, but I am giving it a marginal endorsement.
Of course, we all know and remember the story from Dr. Seuss’ timeless children’s book and the movie does honor the spirit even of its 86 minute runtime still feels like a slight stretch.
Benedict Cumberbatch voices the curmudgeon creature that does live on top of a mountain and despises the residents of Whoville for embracing the Christmas season with a passion and vows to do what he can to ruin it. He still has his faithful canine, Max, as his sole companion.
It wouldn’t be The Grinch without those residents, specifically, Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely). Like her literary counterpart, all she wants for Christmas is nothing for herself, but rather her overworked mom (Rashida Jones) to be happy.
When she inevitably encounters the Grinch, she again mistakes him for the real Santa Claus in hopes of getting just that. There’s a real genuine tenderness and optimism in the way Seely voices the character.
Like the live-action version, this movie does try to delve into why the Grinch hates Christmas. Unlike the Carrey version where he was picked on by kids because he was green and hairy, this one doesn’t go too far only to suggest that he was an orphan and never really had anybody in his life. Fair enough, but again given the material, I don’t think an explanation should be required.
None of Seuss’ adaptations can really sustain a full length feature film no matter how much padding the filmmakers give it.
The ‘66 version understood that well by simply adapting it as it was. Once brought to the big screen, it just feel like a superfluous exercise.
Having said that, I am only mildly recommending it due to Cumberbatch’s voice work, the texture of the animation, and the imagination of the screenplay.
This Grinch isn’t half bad, that much must be said. Just don’t expect a classic; that might go to your head. It captures the spirit of the book, no more, no less. You might be redeemed if you thought Jim Carrey was a mess.
(Rated PG for brief rude humor.)