This latest big-screen adaptation of the classic picture book is entirely superfluous, and appears to have been deliberately designed to be instantly forgettable, with all of Dr. Seuss’s disturbing rough edges ironed out. The Christmas curmudgeon here is almost cuddly—more Oscar the Grouch than truly Grinchy. Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice is unrecognizable as that of the Grinch; he may be the best and only memorable thing about this relentlessly mediocre endeavor, but is the submerged sweetness Cumberbatch brings out in this antihero totally appropriate? It doesn’t feel as hard won when his heart grows three sizes. (If it’s all too mild, we can at least give thanks that this is nothing like Ron Howard’s appalling 2000 live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas.) Mostly what we get is candy-colored slapstick and affable action sequences—See Cindy Lou Who racing through the snowy streets of Whoville to catch the mailman, to deliver her letter to Santa!—and gentle, kindergarten-level humor like beholding the Grinch in his tighty-whiteys. It’s perfectly suitable for small children, and perfectly bland and inoffensive to the adults accompanying them. Dr. Seuss probably wouldn’t approve.
Director: Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney
Producer: Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy, Latifa Ouaou, Audrey Geisel and Chris Renaud
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Pharrell Williams, Tristan O'Hare, Kenan Thompson, Sam Lavagnino, Ramone Hamilton, Angela Lansbury, Scarlett Estevez and Michael Beattie