UNIVERSAL PICTURES (2018)
Directors: Scott Mosier / Yarrow Cheney
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury, Pharrell Williams
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Except if you happen to be The Grinch, Dr. Seuss’ illustrious Christmas-hating green grump. A big screen adventure is nothing new for the character, Jim Carrey’s portrayal from 2000 being the most memorable alongside Boris Karloff in the '60s, however, neither have really caught on with the same impact those stories did (and still do to this day), so if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
This time, the story once more sees The Grinch (voiced by Cumberbatch) attempting to steal Christmas from the holiday-loving residents of Whoville, along with his trusty dog Max. An inquisitive young Who, Cindy Lou (Cameron Seely), is attempting to trap Santa in order to bring some festive cheer to her overworked mother – all whilst Grinchy plots his grand plan.
Less rowdy than Carrey’s version decades ago, this iteration of The Grinch is very much aimed at the family Christmas market – which, in reality, it really should be. The gags are visual and inoffensive and the message of family and love over presents and material needs is warm and permeates the entire movie. Despite being exceedingly British, Benedict Cumberbatch delivers his American accent with (light) snarky aplomb but it does beg the question – why not hire an American voice actor or just have the Grinch be a good old Brit? Nevertheless, Cumberbatch is likeable and very good in the role.
It would be hard to make a Christmas movie look dull and The Grinch is not guilty here – this is a bright, vibrant and visually pleasing affair bursting with festive colours aplenty (and an ocean-load of snow). Whilst not as textured and detailed as, say, a Pixar movie, there’s still a lot to enjoy about how this looks and feels. What it didn’t give me was just that – the feels. Rather than inject an unhealthy dose of Christmas spirit into my veins, The Grinch felt too much like a safe exercise in sweet storytelling and even then, it didn’t feel like a vital festive staple for future years.
A handy ninety-minute runtime ensures the movie never overstays its welcome and, honestly, the pacing was just right. Whilst The Grinch may not entirely capture the festive feels, the kids should certainly get a pre-Christmas kick out of it.
November 26th 2018