The latest adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” has arrived to help ring in the holiday movie season. Simply titled “The Grinch,” the film marks a significant improvement over the 2000 live-action remake, even if it never reaches the heights of the original book or the classic 1966 TV special.
The story centers around the titular Grinch (deliciously voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), a curmudgeonly recluse who dislikes the citizens of Whoville and their holiday cheer. His only real companion is his faithful dog Max, and he only ventures out when he has to. Most of all, he takes great displeasure in the Christmas season, and decides to pose as Santa Claus to steal the holiday joy from all the Whos down in Whoville.
The results are a visual delight for fans of Dr. Seuss’ work, and the depiction of Whoville is a far more whimsical and faithful take on the book than the infamous 2000 live-action film. Some of the biggest laughs come from the smallest touches, including a work carpool that is also a snow luge. Cindy Lou Who also has one of her first fateful encounters with the Grinch while tube sledding to deliver her letter to the North Pole.
That said, the film is not perfect by any means. Though, not as heavy on backstory as the live-action version from 2000, there are still some cringe-worthy scenes such as a training montage before the Grinch sets his plan to steal Christmas in motion.
Still, the added material in the film really works. The Grinch in this version has a surprisingly heartfelt past as an orphan who spent his first Christmas alone, and the familiar “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” song has been given a catchy remix by acclaimed rapper Tyler the Creator. Fellow singer Pharrell Williams also narrates the story, and the film makes an overall solid start to the holiday movie season.
Despite relatively mixed critical reception, the movie has snagged an opening weekend gross upwards of $67 million; with more animated updates to Dr. Seuss’ work on the way in the near future. Though not flawless, “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” is a hilarious and heartwarming holiday treat that’s well worth its weight in Who pudding and roast beast.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars
Review by Steven Pryor
At a Glance:
Starring the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury and Cameron Seely
Directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney (Based on “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” By Dr. Seuss)