The Grinch, rated PG

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Cameron Seely, Pharrell Williams, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury

Austin Family Critical Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Austin Family Family-Friendly Rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years since the release of Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), a film I fondly remember seeing on its opening weekend. Although I question the necessity of a new Grinch film (Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the furry green misanthrope is hard to top), I suppose 18 years is a long time in Hollywood, where we’ve gone through three different incarnations of Spiderman in less than 10 years.

And so we have Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s The Grinch, a brightly animated, brisk retelling of Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s book, in which our titular green curmudgeon plots to rob the town of Whoville of their Christmas traditions.

Based on the advertisements, I was convinced The Grinch would suffer from the cynicism that creeps into so many family reboots of classic material nowadays. Thankfully, this film doesn’t go there – there’s joy and fun in this retelling, for sure. Benedict Cumberbatch makes for a delightful Grinch, in fact – he has the right vocal range to transition from menacing to hilarious in a matter of seconds. And the voice work from actors as varied as Rashida Jones to Angela Lansbury is excellent.

But if you’re looking for an alternative Grinch for an at-home holiday family gathering, I highly recommend not only the Howard/Carrey version, but the 1966 animated television special How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, as well. There’s not much inherently wrong with this newly repackaged Grinch – but it’s a story that been told more imaginatively before.

Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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