Review: Dr. Seuss The Grinch will make you ask: Who cares?

DR. SEUSS THE GRINCH (Yarrow Cheney, Scott Mosier). 86 minutes. Opens Friday (November 9). See listing. Rating: NNI quite liked.

DR. SEUSS THE GRINCH (Yarrow Cheney, Scott Mosier). 86 minutes. Opens Friday (November 9). See listing. Rating: NN

I quite liked Jim Carreys take on the Grinch in the Ron Howard-directed live action movie that came out nearly two decades ago. Say what you will about the movies overstuffed bombast, at least they went for broke.

The new pleasantly animated Grinch, from the company that brought you the Minions, is a quaint, frictionless bauble.

Benedict Cumberbatch voices the curmudgeon whose heart is two sizes too small, which this time leaves him with barely a pulse. Apart from some rude introductory exchanges, Cumberbatchs Grinch expresses his annoyance with Christmas in rather polite ways. He avoids confrontations and even entertains light conversations with the neighbouring Whos while wearing only a gentle scowl.

Parents should be pleased, since this Grinch bends over backwards to not be very bad. And his distaste for the holidays is explained early on with a quick flashback to his sad childhood as an orphan who had been ignored by the seasons greetings. That empathetic note would be appreciated had the movie leaned into it more instead of making it feel decorative.

Neither the Howard movie nor this new take enjoy the succinct pleasures of Dr. Seuss source material or the 1966 TV special. Both 21st-century versions are heavily padded for feature length.

But at least the 2000 movie used that padding to dive into a backstory filled with bullying, social embarrassments and anger, while giving ample room for a testy but heart-warming relationship between Grinch and Cindy Lou Who.

Here, they barely share the frame. Instead, we waste time watching the Grinch prepare his Christmas heist, looking for the right sleigh, making some reindeer friends, gathering intel and planning routes through Whoville, all of which is superficially cute but not entertaining.

However, the main event, when the Grinch wields all sorts of gadgetry to swipe gifts and trees in stylishly rendered split screens, is sufficiently nifty enough so that my kids called it the Best. Grinch. Ever. What do they know?

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