Despite Cumberbatch, The Grinch is quite the killjoy, says Rashid Irani
One of the most memorable malcontents of popular children’s literature is back.
Ever since the publication of The Grinch in 1957, the tale of the green-furred grump has spawned TV shows, animated shorts, even a live-action version with Jim Carrey in the lead role.
Now retooled as a feature-length cartoon, the curmudgeonly character created by Theodor Geisel (aka Dr Seuss) is back to his Christmas-hating shenanigans.
The good doctor’s original verse, previously intoned by the likes of Boris Karloff and Anthony Hopkins, is this time read out by Pharrell Williams.
The plot is the same familiar trope — the tranquil existence of the Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) is disrupted when the people of Whoville decide to celebrate Christmas on a grander scale than ever before.
Devising a reindeer-brained scheme to teach the townsfolk a lesson, the loner whose heart is two sizes too small puts on a Santa suit so he can steal everyone’s presents. The resolution is expectedly rosy, thanks to a cute little girl who teaches the meanie the values of tolerance and diversity.
The film, despite the star cast and even a cameo by the legendary Angela Lansbury, is uniformly unimpressive. The camerawork is frenetic; the design of the candy-coloured backgrounds likely to appeal only to the tiny tots.
Indeed, in its entirety, The Grinch is not even standard-issue kiddie fare.