The Grinch **

It’s a colorful reimagining of the Dr. Seuss tale, but it plays tedious and uninspired. 

Is it worth $10? No 

If you’re going to remake “The Grinch,” you’d better have a good reason. There’d better be something more up your sleeve than a cash grab on a popular yuletide title. It’s imperative to bring something new, innovative, and imaginative to a story many of us already love. Otherwise, go away.

To their credit, the creative minds at Illumination Entertainment (which made the “Despicable Me” movies, among others) had some novel ideas for this latest incarnation of “The Grinch.” The problem is there aren’t many good ideas, so the whole thing falls flat.

Dr. Seuss’ beloved children’s book “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” was originally published in 1957, and the cartoon starring Boris Karloff first aired in 1966 (hard to believe it’s more than 50 years old!). There have been two movie versions: A live action telling in 2000 starring Jim Carrey and directed by Ron Howard, and now this fully animated tale, which pales in comparison to the Karloff cartoon but is at least more enjoyable than its gloomy cinematic predecessor.

The story is largely the same: The Grinch (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch) hates Christmas. Not even his peppy pup Max can make him smile leading up to the holiday. He lives atop Mt. Crumpit just outside of Whoville, a jovial community of “Whos” that loves everything about Christmas. (As an aside, if you’ve ever wondered what the Whos do in mid-July, you are not alone.) When the Whos decide to make Christmas three times bigger this year than ever before, the Grinch decides to steal Christmas.

This is where directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier’s film bogs down. Early scenes of the Grinch with annoying locals like the exuberant Bricklebaum (voice of Kenan Thompson), and enduring cartoonish violence, nicely expand Seuss’ template into enjoyable cinema that’ll have little kids giggling. It’s after this, during the Grinch’s planning of the heist, that things get tedious. Details upon details are shared as the Grinch recruits reindeer, makes his Santa disguise, builds a sled, etc. You’re reminded why the Karloff cartoon left this out: It doesn’t tonally fit. This is an effervescent movie full of color and cheer, and yet here we are spending a half hour with the Grinch finding new ways to ruin Christmas. The character was always a downer, but the directors can’t let the Grinch drag the movie down like this.

Meanwhile, all the Whos in Whoville are happy except Donna (voice of Rashida Jones), a stressed single mother of Cindy Lou (Cameron Seely) and two twin boys. In this ideal and otherwise perfect land of Whoville, no explanation is given for where their father is, which seems odd. Regardless, sweet Cindy Lou wants Santa to help her mother for Christmas, and plans to stay up late to tell the big guy herself. If you think you know where this is going, you are 100 percent correct.

To be fair, “The Grinch” is certainly not an embarrassment. The filmmakers tried a few new things and they didn’t work. This does mean, however, that you’re better off showing your kids and grandkids the Karloff version instead of spending movie theater money. They’ll enjoy it more, and so will you.

Did you know?
This is Illumination Entertainment’s second Dr. Seuss film after “The Lorax” in 2012.

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