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film review

Benedict Cumberbatch voices the Grinch in Dr. Seuss' The Grinch.Photo Credit: Illumination and U/Illumination / Universal Studios

  • The Grinch
  • Directed by Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier
  • Written by Michael LeSieur and Tommy Swerdlow
  • Starring Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Classification PG
  • 90 minutes


2 out of 4 stars

If, like the new Grinch himself, you’d break the radio before you’d listen to Feliz Navidad, you may wonder why anyone would remake How the Grinch Stole Christmas. There are, however, two good reasons: the brief 1966 TV special was sweetly faithful to the book but flat by the standards of today’s animation; the 2000 live-action feature starring Jim Carrey was grotesque.

Sadly, this new animated Grinch does not justify itself accordingly. In a script padded with clunky attempts to replicate Seussian rhymes, Benedict Cumberbatch voices a bloated Grinch confused rather than enlarged by this bit of backstory: He was an orphan deprived of Christmas. Meanwhile, little Cindy Lou stars in a bland and sentimental secondary plot involving her overworked single mother. Max, the dog, is the only real charmer here.

The animators offer some crazed Rube-Goldbergian whimsy, but they also overload the film with pretty stuff in a soft-focus, snow-globe fantasy that feels witlessly ironic: Isn’t this story supposed to be anti-consumerist?

A critic needs only two words to dispense with The Grinch; the first one is bah.

Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch opens Nov. 9.