Grumpy Grinch is daz­zling

The Star Early Edition - - LIFE - MICHAEL RECHTSHAFFEN

THE GRINCH

DI­REC­TOR: Peter Can­de­land, Yar­row Cheney

VOICEOVER CAST: Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, Kait­lyn Ma­her, Laura Dickinson RUN­NING TIME: 86min

CLAS­SI­FI­CA­TION: PG

RAT­ING: 3/5 BENE­DICT Cum­ber­batch lends his sup­ple voice to this warmly ren­dered an­i­mated take on the hol­i­day clas­sic.

Much closer in spirit to the beloved book and the ev­er­green 1966 TV spe­cial than the soul­less lump of coal that was the 2000 Ron Howard-Jim Car­rey col­lab­o­ra­tion, Dr Seuss’s The Grinch is a vi­brant, amus­ing an­i­mated fea­ture that gives the big mean, green guy a kinder, gen­tler makeover.

While the film’s mes­sage of spread­ing love and kind­ness is un­mis­tak­ably keyed to our po­lit­i­cally tur­bu­lent era, the root cause of the Grinch’s un­pleas­ant­ness, orig­i­nally thought to have been re­lated to his hav­ing a heart two sizes too small, has now re­ceived a com­plete psy­cho­log­i­cal work-up re­veal­ing an emo­tion­ally scarred child­hood.

The re­sult­ing in­fu­sion of em­pa­thy makes for a Grinch that’s less of a mean one than a mis­er­able one, but what the pro­duc­tion may have lost in a “nasty-wasty skunk” of an an­tag­o­nist, it gains in an in­spired voice cast (led by Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch) and a daz­zlingly merry and bright vis­ual palette.

Mark­ing the third Seuss adap­ta­tion by Chris Meledan­dri’s Il­lu­mi­na­tion En­ter­tain­ment after 2008’s Hor­ton Hears a Who! and 2012’s The Lo­rax, the Uni­ver­sal re­lease should gen­er­ate plenty of fam­ily-friendly, pre-hol­i­day cheer when it opens in South Africa this week­end.

The pro­duc­tion’s big­gest up­grade is Whoville it­self, which has been trans­formed into a lu­mi­nous, twin­kling spec­ta­cle of a minimetropo­lis, com­plete with its own Who Foods Mar­ket and a metic­u­lous at­ten­tion to de­tail that ex­tends to the tini­est of Christ­mas tree dec­o­ra­tions and most in­nocu­ous of snowflakes.

If that, along with Danny Elf­man’s fan­ci­ful score and Tyler the Cre­ator’s spin on You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch fail to do the trick in these spir­i­tu­ally try­ing times, then maybe the green dude’s not the one whose heart is full of un­washed socks. | Hol­ly­wood Re­porter

Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch does the voice-over for The Grinch in the 3D com­puter-an­i­mated Christ­mas com­edy film.

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