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'The Grinch' strains under feature-length loot

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" remains arguably the best of TV's animated Christmas specials. Yet the Chuc...

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 5:46 PM
Updated: Nov 7, 2018 5:46 PM

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" remains arguably the best of TV's animated Christmas specials. Yet the Chuck Jones/Dr. Seuss holiday classic is a model of storytelling economy, whereas the new version, "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch," captures sparks of that magic while straining to treble its size -- like the Grinch's small heart, only here for theatrical purposes.

In that regard, this "Grinch," which features Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the title character, has a good deal in common with "The Lorax," another Illumination Entertainment adaptation of a Seuss staple, which felt similarly labored in fleshing out its story.

Christmas

Holidays and observances

To its credit, a few of the new elements in "The Grinch" are pretty nifty, perhaps most notably an expanded visual representation of Whoville, the idyllic town whose Christmas festivities become the object of the Grinch's ire. The other major additions are both new -- little Cindy Lou Who, in this telling way more than two, is now the concerned daughter of a single mom struggling to make ends meet -- and very old, providing the Grinch an origin story that vaguely echoes why young Ebenezer Scrooge was so hostile to the holidays.

Other tacked-on elements are colorful, if fairly broad and garishly comedic, from an overweight reindeer who becomes part of the Grinch's plot to an ebullient Whoville resident Bricklebaum (Kenan Thompson) whose wholesale embrace of Christmas cheer represents everything that the Grinch isn't.

Much of that feels like filler, perhaps inevitably, as the Grinch builds up to the idea of stealing the Whos' Christmas; devises an elaborate plan to execute his scheme; and finally, comes to recognize the true spirit of the season, which, as Cindy Lou's mom (Rashida Jones) tells her, is about more than mere "stuff."

The heartwarming aspects have to work pretty hard to knife through the clutter, and the uplifting ending -- while still good -- has been somewhat blunted in pursuit of a slightly more expansive message. Movie length also robs the Seuss-ian dialogue of some of its poetry, even with a Pharrell Williams narration that draws heavily on the script from the original production.

Finally, there's Cumberbatch's voice work, which involves adopting a slightly nasal twang that, frankly, won't make anybody forget Boris Karloff, and really makes one yearn to hear the actor's resonant baritone, British accent and all.

The underlying bones of "The Grinch" are so solid the movie can't help but be moderately pleasing. But to borrow from another holiday special, the commercial imperative to adorn the story with shiny baubles to suit the frenetic demands of modern animation is a bit like the little Christmas tree that Charlie Brown brings home to Linus and the gang. Yes, it's nice to dress it up a bit, but one bulb too many can potentially topple the whole thing.

"Dr. Seuss' The Grinch" premieres Nov. 9 in the U.S. It's rated PG.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 514171

Reported Deaths: 10285
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34920557
DeSoto33270432
Hinds32652642
Jackson24876391
Rankin22516404
Lee16366245
Madison14932283
Jones14129247
Forrest13785260
Lauderdale12279324
Lowndes11314193
Lamar10663140
Pearl River9720244
Lafayette8855143
Hancock7839132
Washington7553169
Oktibbeha7216138
Monroe7036179
Pontotoc7003109
Warren6872178
Panola6768135
Neshoba6732210
Marshall6686142
Bolivar6451151
Union640898
Pike5933156
Alcorn5887107
Lincoln5533136
George510380
Prentiss505385
Tippah492783
Itawamba4857107
Scott478199
Adams4771125
Tate4765117
Leflore4736144
Copiah457095
Yazoo456692
Simpson4554117
Wayne443172
Covington434695
Sunflower4315106
Marion4279112
Coahoma4238109
Leake414090
Newton395782
Tishomingo384894
Grenada3777109
Stone365766
Jasper340866
Attala338790
Winston317892
Chickasaw316167
Clay312578
Clarke301295
Calhoun285949
Holmes271889
Smith269452
Yalobusha244247
Tallahatchie232053
Greene224749
Walthall221866
Lawrence219141
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster206248
Noxubee188743
Montgomery181857
Carroll174941
Jefferson Davis173843
Tunica163339
Benton153139
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134439
Humphreys132139
Franklin126029
Quitman107628
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845761

Reported Deaths: 16119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161862004
Mobile742411381
Madison53315732
Shelby38351369
Baldwin38104589
Tuscaloosa36052641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25590263
Calhoun22598518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20026518
Marshall18790316
Houston17741425
St. Clair16904358
Limestone16153219
Cullman16067303
Elmore15912294
Lauderdale14991306
Talladega14209299
DeKalb12985269
Walker12067380
Blount10729192
Autauga10526157
Jackson10170194
Coffee9425192
Colbert9341208
Dale9024192
Tallapoosa7273201
Russell708865
Chilton7042170
Escambia6956143
Covington6943195
Franklin6338108
Chambers5785142
Marion5413130
Dallas5295209
Pike5123109
Clarke484886
Lawrence4831129
Winston4780110
Geneva4643136
Bibb434594
Barbour369980
Butler3439100
Marengo342393
Monroe337466
Randolph334867
Pickens333988
Fayette330085
Henry320766
Hale318489
Cherokee318363
Crenshaw260777
Washington256952
Cleburne254560
Lamar251953
Clay251169
Macon245064
Conecuh193162
Coosa185547
Lowndes178268
Wilcox177638
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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Columbus
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High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the next few days. This will keep our area on the dry side and on the unseasonably warm side for this time of the year. We will see most high temperatures well into the 70s over the next few afternoons.
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