I’ve never really understood the need to mess with perfection. The 1966 animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is about as classic as holiday entertainment gets.
Helmed by Looney Tunes directors Chuck Jones and Ben Washam and narrated by Boris Freakin’ Karloff, this very Seuss-ian take on the over-commercialism of Christmas is a pitch-perfect joy that has delighted several generations.
The problem is it clocks in at about 30 minutes and, for some reason, Hollywood seems bound and determined to turn this story into a feature-length movie even though it wasn’t made to support that much weight.
The first attempt was a live-action version starring Jim Carrey in 2000, and the results were mixed at best. Nearly 20 years later, we’re back again with a computer-animated movie called simply “The Grinch.”
For those of you who have never turned on a television in the month of December, the Grinch is a grumpy creature who lives in a cave above an idyllic town called Whoville that cranks its Christmas celebrations up to 11. This annoys the Grinch to such an extreme degree that, along with his faithful dog Max, he pulls a reverse-Santa on the Whos down in Whoville and steals all of the presents, lights, trees and other material trappings of Christmas in order to keep the holiday from coming.
In the original version, the Grinch is a pure villain whose transformation is all the more powerful when he is shown the true meaning of Christmas.
In this updated version, the Grinch, as voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, is more of a misunderstood introvert and the need to give him a backstory to justify his actions (and pad out the plot) makes him come across more like the grouchy neighbor on a sitcom than an unabashed jerk who thrills in taking candy from babies.
This makes “The Grinch” play out as a bland holiday distraction instead of the iconic Christmas story it has become.
There are some nice touches, like Pharrell Williams as the narrator and hearing Angela Lansbury as the mayor of Whoville is a treat, but for the most part, there’s just not much there.
“The Grinch” isn’t a travesty, but it is completely and totally unnecessary. This Christmas, curl up with the classic “Grinch” and leave the reboot out in the cold. You’ll be glad you did.
“The Grinch” is rated PG for brief rude humor.
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