The Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) flies through the sky above Whoville in a scene from Illumination and Universal Pictures' DR. SEUSS' THE GRINCH. Credit: Illumination and Universal Studios. © 2018 Universal Studios.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keenan Thompson, Rashida Jones, Cameroon Seely, Angela Lansbury and Pharrell Williams

DIRECTOR(S): Yarrow Cheney, Scott Mosier

WEB SITE: https://www.grinchmovie.com/ 

THE BACK STORY: The latest iteration of Dr. Theodor Geisel's beloved Christmas classic, the 2018 version Dr. Seuss' The Grinch finds Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the titular green curmudgeon this time out. Furry, grumpy and mean as ever, the Grinch despises the town of Whoville's annual holiday celebration in a manner that would make Ebenezer Scrooge proud. Content to hang in his cave on the mountain overlooking the town with his precocious dog Max, our green antagonist to all the happy Whos in Whooville like his neighbor Mr. Bricklebaum (Keenan Thompson). 

What he's not counting on, however, is Cindy Lou-Who (Cameron Seely) – a little girl who just wants Santa Claus to bring her mother a very merry Christmas – throwing a well-thought out wrench into his plans to ruin the holiday for the whole town. 

THE REVIEW: There's nothing necessarily wrong with Illumination – the team behind the Despicable Me franchise – entering the fray to produce a Grinch movie; on paper, it would almost seem like a can't lose situation. But when you watch the film, you might almost feel like you're getting a diet Despicable Me that does feel like putting new tires on a very used car. In other words, the movie doesn't do anything to harm the Dr. Seuss movie series ... But it doesn't do anything to add to it, either.

The film doesn't have the pure, whimsical charm of the 1966 original nor the comedically dark undertones of the 2000 live-action masterpiece starring Jim Carrey; instead, it exists somewhere in its own universe where it doesn't know what exactly it wants to be besides light-hearted with graphics to appeal to children of the HDTV generation. Sure, Fred the Reindeer and Max add some much needed fun – as do the abbreviated appearances of Thompson's bearded Who and Cindy-Lou Who, but the film just has a very "been there, done that" feeling for anyone that has seen either of the previous two versions. Think of like McDonalds' – no matter who many playgrounds, self-serve kiosks or Coca-Cola Freestyle machines you add, it's still the same food, this time just dressed up better to hide the same taste ... Just a little less fresher than you'd expect. Pharrell Williams' does a nice job as the narrator and Cumberbatch adds a nice bit of snark that helps makes the Grinch's turn from antagonist to protagonist palatable, but it's still a cinematic experience we've had before. And if you're going to do a Dr. Seuss movie, you must seize the opportunity to make it as original as the man himself.



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