MATTHEW BOND FILM OF THE WEEK

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - BY MICHAEL PARKINSON -

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

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