Want to feel like a Scrooge? Spend an hour and a half with The Grinch, the latest failed attempt to grow the already perfect 1966 animated short How the Grinch Stole Christmas! into a feature-length film.
Nearly two decades after Ron Howard made audiences cringe by putting Jim Carrey in a green fuzzy suit, production designer Yarrow Cheney (Despicable Me) and producer Scott Mosier (Clerks) take a crack at the Dr. Seuss classic and show off their directorial ineptitude in the service of a script that feels like it was written in a single afternoon.
A waste of quality animation by the Illumination team, the film augments the source material with lazy, predictable gags and an emphasis on slapstick humor, aimed firmly at young audiences.
Voicing the titular role, Benedict Cumberbatch very well could be giving an excellent performance, but the cloud of sub-mediocrity surrounding him neuters any potential accomplishment. The same goes for a commendably diverse cast that includes Rashida Jones and Kenan Thompson in prominent parts, though Pharrell Williams’ lifeless narration does the film no favors, and neither does a shoddy focus on Cindy Lou Who’s mission to convince Santa Claus to help out her overextended single mom.
Beyond a cute, overweight reindeer named Fred and a catchy new theme song by Tyler, the Creator — whose standout lyric about the Grinch’s teeth color is nonetheless at odds with his dental condition set forth by the animators — there’s nothing new of note about this shameless cash grab, which seems destined to be forgotten by the time Christmas rolls around.
But if you absolutely must see it, consider upgrading to 3D. At least that way, there will be something to help distract from its multitude of shortcomings.
Grade: D. Rated PG. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Universal Pictures)