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Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) voices the Christmas-loathing Grinch in this family-friendly animated retelling from Illumination (Despicable Me).
The Grinch lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbours in Who-ville when he runs out of food. Each year at Christmas they disrupt his tranquil solitude with their increasingly bigger, brighter and louder celebrations. When the Whos declare they are going to make Christmas three times bigger this year, the Grinch realises there is only one way for him to gain some peace and quiet: he must steal Christmas.
- Michael LeSieur (based on the book 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas!' by Dr. Seuss)
Animated, Comedy, Kids & Family, Fantasy
Dr. Seuss’s Christmas classic gets the CGI treatment from Illumination, the studio behind Despicable Me and its cranky villain Gru, who learns to be a nice guy, much like Charles Dickens’ Scrooge. It’s a tried and trusted festive formula but, as with many beloved children’s picture books, the source material’s too short to make a big movie from, and too well-known to ignore. The good news is, as with The Lorax, the producers stick to Seuss’ style, expanding on his surreal illustrations, wholesome morals and rhyming lines.
Co-directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier ensure a bright palette, with enough silliness to keep little ones enthralled and adults mildly amused. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the grumpy Grinch, who gets a brief orphan’s backstory to explain his festive loathing, only to have his bad ways turned around by the happy holiday spirit of a child and her fellow Whoville residents, from the relentlessly cheery Kenan Thompson, to Angela Lansbury as the town’s Mayor.
In the tale of a grump learning to be glad, it’s the Grinch’s non-speaking canine sidekick Max who steals the show. Little ones will love it, but kids over eight and accompanying adults may be less forgiving of a short story stretched to snapping point for the big screen. But hey, it’s got a warm, fuzzy, festive, family-friendly heart. Cumberbatch has fun, Pharrell Williams is a delightful narrator, and the obligatory songs, Danny Elfman score, plus some amped-up set-pieces, ensure 90 Christmassy minutes whizz by pleasantly, if instantly forgettably.
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
TimeOut (New York)
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)