MATTHEW BOND FILM OF THE WEEK
In my house we had one firm rule – the DVD of Jim Carrey’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, a film made all the way back in 2000, could not be played before December 1… ever. It was a rule I attempted to enforce with vigorous parental authority but conspicuously failed on most weekends from Halloween onwards. It duly became a muchloved part of the fabric of our family, despite the distinctly so-so reviews that greeted its release.
And maybe, in turn, the new animated version of the story will duly become part of the fabric of a new generation of families, despite this distinctly so-so review. Yes, the animation is a shiny, pixel-bright delight, and it’s interesting to hear Benedict Cumberbatch doing his American-accented best to lend fresh voice to the green, 16
Cert: U 1hr 30mins
furry, Christmas-hating curmudgeon that is the title character. And yet the whole thing just seems lacking in that Yuletide essential: magic.
Purists may say that, barring the interpolation of an oversized reindeer, the new version is more faithful to Dr Seuss’s original story than Carrey’s ever was. Pragmatists will say that for a feature-length film, Seuss’s 1957 picture book inevitably needs to be ‘padded out’ and that Carrey’s version did a better job of that than the new film. It’s only 90 minutes long but at times it definitely drags, particularly for anyone familiar with the basic story.
For anyone who is not… the Grinch lives in gloomy exile in a cave on towering Mount Crumpit, overlooking the colourful, cheerful, Christmasloving town of Whoville, the inhabitants of which – the Whos – go into festive overdrive every December. Much to the annoyance of the Grinch, who hates Christmas, partly because his heart is famously ‘two sizes too small’ and partly for reasons that become clear about halfway through. But either way, to cut a short story even shorter, he resolves to steal Whoville’s Christmas altogether – every last bauble, tree and, of course, present. ‘Instead of bringing all the joy and happiness,’ he gloats, ‘I’m going to take it away!’ There’s no doubt that the new film makes the Grinch splendidly unpleasant – this is the sort of bah-humbug creature who knocks down children’s snowmen, kicks away walking sticks and deliberately places vital ingredient jars out of reach of short Christmas shoppers. He even very nearly gives away the biggest Christmas secret of all when kind-hearted Cindy Lou announces her plan to stay