February 7, 2019  (Web Review)

The Grinch

Universal, 86 min., PG, DVD: $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.98, Feb. 5

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

This is an absolutely unnecessary remake of a perfectly acceptable Christmas classic. Published in 1957, Dr. Seuss’s (aka Theodor Geisel) How the Grinch Stole Christmas was an instant bestseller. Chuck Jones filmed it in 1966 as an animated TV special, featuring the voice of Boris Karloff. In 2000, Ron Howard morphed the tale into a live-action feature film with Jim Carrey as the mean-spirited misanthrope. Now, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) voices the titular grumpy, green killjoy living atop Mount Crumpit, who hates Christmas so much that he’s determined to ruin the holiday for everyone else, particularly the Whos down in Whoville. Dressed up as Santa and using his beleaguered dog Max as a reindeer (until a real reindeer named Fred appears), the Grinch surreptitiously steals decorations and gifts, until he encounters warmhearted Cindy Lou Who (voiced by Cameron Seely). While the Grinch’s character has been softened—adding a Dickensian orphanage background to explain his distaste for Christmas cheer—the main difference here seems to be a few distinctly Dr. Seussian rhyming couplets for narrator Pharrell Williams, augmented by Tyler, the Creator’s hip-hop spiced soundtrack. Presented in crisp, visually alluring CGI animation—artfully coordinated by directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier—The Grinch features far-too-brief voicework by Angela Lansbury, Kenan Thompson, and Rashida Jones. Ultimately, those who are already familiar with earlier versions needn’t bother with this remake. Optional. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include the companion mini-movie “The Dog Days of Winter,” as well as Minions shorts “Yellow is the New Black” and “Santa’s Little Helpers” (12 min. total), the behind-the-scenes segments “Cindy-Lou’s Yule Log” (8 min.), “Any Who Can Draw” (7 min.), “Making of the Mini-Movies” (6 min.), “From Green to Screen” (6 min.), “Illuminating” (5 min.), “Songs from His Little Heart” (4 min.), “My Earliest Grinch Memories” (3 min.), “Grinchy Gadgets” (3 min.), and “X-Mas Around the World” (3 min.), plus the brief “Production Babies,” a “Who’s Who in Who-ville” interactive map with character profiles, animation tests, progression reels, and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “I Am the Grinch” lyric videos. Exclusive to the Blu-ray release are bonus DVD and digital copies of the film. Bottom line: a fine extras package for a remake that no one needed.] (S. Granger)