This movie elaborates on Dr. Seuss’ classic book about the Christmas-hating Grinch, narrated by Pharrell Williams (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) who lives above the merry town of Whoville. Down below, the mayor of Whoville (Angela Lansbury) has deemed that Christmas is going to be three times bigger than the previous years. So, the Grinch decides he’s going to ruin everyone’s holiday by pretending to be Santa and stealing the entire town’s presents and decorations. But adorable little Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely), whose mother, Donna Lou (Rashida Jones), is a hardworking single mum, has a plan of her own: trap Santa and ask him for a very special gift.
This adaptation is bright, colourful, and occasionally funny, but it doesn’t come close to matching the effectiveness of the short-and-sweet original. While Cumberbatch’s voice isn’t as resonantly deep as Boris Karloff’s, his Grinch is believably grumpy, angry, and resentful of Whoville’s need for a ginormous Christmas celebration. The Grinch’s lovable loyal dog, Max, makes the green meanie a bit more sympathetic, as does the sad backstory that explains his motivations for hating the holiday.
But this isn’t only the Grinch’s story. It’s also Cindy Lou’s, as she attempts to convince Santa to grant her selfless wish. To accomplish her goal, there’s a subplot involving a group of her friends, a kid-led caper that should appeal to younger audiences. Jones is well cast as a loving mum, and Kenan Thompson adds comic relief as a Whoville resident who misguidedly believes that the Grinch is his pal. For its enduring messages about kindness and love, it’s hard to find fault in The Grinch.