The Grinch voice cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Pharrell Williams
The Grinch movie director: Yarrow Cheney, Scott Mosier
The Grinch movie rating: 2.5 stars
The underlying message of Dr Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas! may be that there is more to the festival than presents, and that it has more to do with love, kindness and hearts that can literally grow to accommodate others. But with Christmas bigger and shinier every holiday season, this latest film adaptation of the 1957 book isn’t taking any chances with getting its message across. So Grinch is the Christmas-hating, mean and green ogre he is because he once was a lonely orphan. And Cindy Lou of Whoville doesn’t just happen to bring him around but does so as part of an elaborate plan so as to get Santa Claus’s help for her overworked single mother, raising her and her twin younger brothers. Who wouldn’t feel for those two people?
Cumberbatch, whose most famous role has him playing the sociopath Sherlock, is an inspired choice to play Grinch. Illuminati Studio, also behind the Despicable Me series, scores another by getting their favourite Pharrell Williams to be the narrator. Williams, who gave Illuminati and the world the evergreen song Happy, keeps the story going with a voiceover that is a combination of rhyming lines from the book and material created for the film. But it is Seely who steals the show as the kind do-getter Cindy Lou — notwithstanding the fact that you may be now used to seeing characters like her in plentiful on the screen. Cindy Lou cares for her mother, is not daunted by anything, and leads a bunch of guys her age effortlessly in her exploits.
However, given the essential storyline that has held strong for 60 years now, the film has to keep switching back to Grinch. And it is hard to care for the mean thing, easy to hate him for working his loyal dog to the bone, and rather boring to see him go lengthily about his plan of spoiling Whoville’s Christmas. Some may even pardon Grinch for feeling the way he does, given that the town is essentially a Christmas fantasy come alive in technicolour — including a machine that runs through its streets leaving behind readymade snowballs to play with.
The film is at its most entertaining when the night that Grinch strikes eventually draws near. That a man who lives closeted in a cave away from civilisation, who rose from an orphan to become a recluse, could invent so many simple things that aid him in his task — of stealing from 200-plus houses in seven hours — wets your curiosity. However, while it could have taken its longest with this, the film rushes through these parts.