‘The Grinch’: Redemption story colorfully reimagined
Christmas gets “stolen” anew in this latest adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss book. Colorfully reimagined and given a soundtrack with familiar Yuletide songs, the animated holiday feature “The Grinch” manages to favorably “pad” the old children’s tale, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
The Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), a green-furred humanoid creature who lives in isolation, gets to execute his scheme with more flair this time—made flashier, thanks to the nearly unlimited “realities” that animation allows.
Living only with his loyal dog Max, the titular grouch is still initially a bully, who gets to exhibit his prickly personality when he visits the nearby town of Whoville. Cantankerous and just plain mean, the Grinch unhesitatingly ruins a boy’s snowman, and generally behaves offensively when he shops for his ginormous supply of food.
It’s five days before Christmas, which inexplicably gets him in a bad mood. Avoiding carolers, wincing at holiday decorations, and getting irritated by the permeating cheerfulness, he suddenly comes up with a grandiose plan to make it all stop: He plans to dress up as Santa Claus, sneak into Whoville homes, and take all the Christmas-related items from under everyone’s noses.
Meanwhile, young Cindy Lou (Cameron Seely) hopes to contact Santa Claus, much to her exhausted single mom’s (Rashida Jones) amusement.
Directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney, and narrated by Pharrell Williams, “The Grinch” includes in its songs a traditional Christian carol, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” as well as mostly secular holiday ditties. It also includes an instrumental rendition of “All By Myself,” played by the bitter character on his old pipe organ.
The music’s more adventurous bent extends to the mild humor as well; the sometimes-intelligent dog Max gets into some of the refreshingly cute and silly scenarios.
The Grinch this time is a more inventive gadgeteer, using his smarts to purloin the trimmings of Whoville in creative, flashy ways. While Jim Carrey splendidly brought to life the cartoony villain in the live-action film “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in 2000, Cumberbatch imbues the thieving creep with a distinct depth and a transformable personality, using just his expressive voice.
That’s especially necessary because the Grinch’s story is, ultimately, a tale of redemption and forgiveness.
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