The Grinch (4 stars)

The Grinch

Animated Dr Seuss adaptation retains the magic of the original material

The third adaptation of Dr. Suess' beloved Christmas classic, following the traditionally animated TV special (1966) and the live-action Jim Carrey version (2000), The Grinch is produced by Illumination, the studio behind the Despicable Me franchise. (Suitably, it's preceded by a very funny Minions prison break short called Yellow is the New Black).

Benedict Cumberbatch voices The Grinch, a grumpy, green creature who despises Christmas so much that he plots to steal it, thereby depriving the happy citizens of Who-ville of their presents and trees on Christmas morning. With the aid of his faithful dog, Max and a plus-sized reindeer named Fred, The Grinch disguises himself as Santa Claus and puts his dastardly plan in motion. Meanwhile, kind-hearted Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely) plots to intercept Santa Claus, so she can ask him to bring some happiness to her overworked single mother Donna (Rashida Jones).

The animation is gorgeous, and packed with little details that will reward future viewings. Similarly, there's a level of visual invention – particularly in The Grinch's cave – that recalls Wallace and Gromit, and would no doubt have brought a smile to the face of Seuss himself.

Co-directors Cheney and Mosier maintain a suitably breezy pace throughout, racking up a number of hilarious sight gags in the process. On top of that, the script cleverly incorporates most of Seuss' original text while seamlessly adding some new material, including an explanatory childhood flashback that's heartbreaking to watch.

Cumberbatch does a decent Grinch voice (if not quite on Jim Carrey's level), while Seely manages to make Cindy Lou sweet and charming without resorting to mawkish sentimentality. The supporting honours are, however, roundly stolen by Max, who's a proper scene-stealer in this version. In fact, he is so utterly adorable that the whole thing almost backfires, because his mere presence makes the Grinch (who clearly loves him) that much nicer from the outset.

General release from Fri 9 Nov

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Christmas Lockdown Drive-In: The Grinch

The Grinch (Cumberbatch) is a grumpy, green creature who despises Christmas so much that he plots to steal it. The animation is gorgeous, the pace is breezy and Cumberbatch does a decent job with the voice, but the film is stolen by the Grinch’s adorable dog Max.

Hackney Picturehouse, London E8

Sat 11 Dec


0871 902 5734

Staveley Roundhouse, Kendal

Sat 11 Dec

£5.50 (Children £3.30)