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Green And Mean

Saturday, November 10, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

The Grinch
Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney
Cast (Voices): Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely & others
Rating: * * *

The world’s favourite misanthrope, Grinch, created by beloved children’s author Dr Seuss in his classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas, gets a feature length animated makeover in the film, The Grinch, by Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney, with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the green grouch. (The short 1966 TV special had Boris Karloff’s voice, while the live action film made in 2000 by Ron Howard starred Jim Carrey in the title role).

Kids (and their parents) who read, would know that Grinch lives atop Mount Crumpet with his adoring dog Max (who even makes his coffee with grouchy emoticon foam on top), and hates the happy Whos who live down in Whoville; he particularly hates the colourful cheer of Christmas—that season of merrymaking, gifting and Santa Claus.

There is a lot of padding required to extend the original 64-page book into an 80-minute film, so there is a Grinch’s Dickensian backstory, that explains why he is so crabby; and there are plenty of gags and frenzied action to delight the target audience of children. Some characters are added --like the extra jolly Bricklebaum (Kenan Thompson) and a large reindeer named Fred -- or fleshed out like Cindy Lou (Cameron Seely), who badly needs to meet Santa to seek help for her single mom (Rashida Jones). Too bad that Angela Lansbury as the Mayor gets very little time.

The directors and animators have rendered a greeting card-like village at Christmastime, with snow, lights, garlands, sleds and decorated trees. It would, frankly, drive any sane person to Grinchiness, but this guy’s heart is too small and needs to be pumped up. But before that Grinch has to find ways of stealing Christmas from the Whos.

Still, the guy who is a supermarket bully and destroys a kids’s snowman, does not come across as frighteningly malevolent—today’s kids weaned on Harry Potter could have taken a more evil Grinch.

Pharrell Williams as the story’s narrator is perky, and Benedict Cumberbatch sounds suitably grumpy. The film is vibrant fun, comes just in time to India, in the midst of Diwali madness, and preparing the rest of the world for pre-holiday high spirits well in advance.

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