BY BILLY SUTER
ONLY Charles Dickens’s bah-humbug Ebenezer Scrooge rates as miserable and mean as Dr Seuss’s green and furry The Grinch when it comes to crotchety Christmas characters – but, thankfully, both gloomy gents get to love the season in the end, discovering that it means more than gifts and festive lights.
Both Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and Seuss’s rhyming How The Grinch Stole Christmas spin tales of redemption and the discovery of love and kindness, so it is no wonder both books are popular choices for turning into movies.
The Grinch, the new animated version of Seuss’s classic, opens countrywide on December 7 – and, having seen it at a preview today (December 2), I can report that it is glossy, colourful, charming and a good pick for a festive family treat.
Note, though, that it is not as memorable as the quirky, live-action version of the tale released in 2008, in which Jim Carrey made a much meaner, creepier and far more deliciously over-the-top villain.
The animated Grinch, by comparison, comes across as a lot softer looking, more cynical, a lot less sinister, more cuddly a character, and the story is a lot heavier on sentiment that the hit film from a decade ago.
For all that, The Grinch still makes for a fun entertainment for the young of all ages, and has the plusses of narration by music star Pharrell Williams with Benedict Cumberbatch, here with American accent, doing a fine job providing the voice of The Grinch.
The tale has the green meanie living with his loyal but hard-working dog, Max, inside a cave on Mount Crumpet. His main source of aggravation comes during the days building up to Christmas, when his neighbours in Whoville celebrate the holidays with a bang.
When the Whos decide to make Christmas three times bigger and brighter, the disgruntled Grinch realises there is one way to gain peace and quiet. With help from Max, the green grump hatches a scheme to pose as Santa Claus, steal Christmas and silence the Whos’ holiday cheer once and for all.
But, of course, not all goes to plan in this cute, colourful story which features a delightful score by Danny Elfman and musical inserts that include My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music and an organ instrumental of the Eric Carmen ballad, All By Myself.
The visualisation of Whoville and its many Christmas delights is detailed and glossily grand, and the script, while perhaps not as inventive as it might have been, is sprinkled with much humour and many visual delights. These include one of the most memorable reindeers you are ever likely to see – one with a hairstyle borrowed from Donald Trump.
The film also features the voice talents of Angela Lansbury (as the Whoville mayor) and The Office star Rashida Jones (Donna Who). It is the second animated Dr Seuss movie from Illumination Entertainment, the first having been The Lorax. It gets a rating of 7/10.