In 1966, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” made television history with its inimitable animation and the distinctive voice talent of Boris Karloff as The Grinch. Now in 2018, Benedict Cumberbatch assumes the grouchy green mantle in Scott Mosier’s “The Grinch,” a slickly directed new version.
Fans of Dr. Seuss know the story well. The skinny green miser has a heart “two sizes too small”, Christmas gives him the blues, so he resolves to steal all things pertaining to the cheerful holiday. Cindy Lou (Cameron Seely) is here. She wants to catch Santa in the act.
The animation is vibrant, crystal clear and pleasing. The animation is a bit too photorealistic to capture the original charm of the story, some of the individualist character that made the story so wondrous is absent. Gone are the wavy Gaudi-like lines. In its place are colorful big eyed bubbles of cuteness. All is big, spherical and rounded. The leaning slanted lines of Seussville have been re-planed.
That being said, Cumberbatch makes a fine addition to the Grinch canon, his theatrical voice gives the creature a self deprecating almost quizzical quality at times. Then he can veer into the realm of the manic, almost like another Cumberbatch favorite Sherlock Holmes.
Another fine talent is Keenan Thompson, making what would have been a generic role into something memorable by his zany voice, while the singer Pharrell Williams does an excellent job as the narrator.
Fans of The Grinch himself will be pleased—Cumberbatch has enough sinister charm to carry the day—but those pining for the dark-humored zest of the first tale would be better served to go back to the future to the ’60s, when all things Seuss and Karloffian went gleefully jagged, jittery, sideways and slanted, careening off the screen.
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