BREAKING NEWS Police: At least 11 wounded in mass shooting at Grenada biker club Full Story

'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: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 50°
Columbus
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 52°
Oxford
Scattered Clouds
48° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 45°
Starkville
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 48°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather