In 1957, Theodore Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) wrote a 30-page children’s book called “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” criticizing the commercialization of the holiday. It became an instant classic. It’s about how an embittered hermit plans to sabotage a nearby village’s noisy celebration by stealing all the decorations and gifts, only to learn that Christmas is not really about all that stuff.
In 1966, Boris Karloff narrated and voiced the title character in an almost-perfect, 22-minute TV animation. And in 2000, Ron Howard stretched the slender story into a heavily padded, live-action feature starring Jim Carrey that was sporadically amusing.
Now comes Disney with this uninspired, unnecessary and bland animation that even the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch can’t save. This blatant cash grab is so insipid it will likely put off even the little kids it was designed to baby-sit. No less than six credited directors share the blame for the unforgivable padding and forced subplots.
Worse, they’ve made the villainous antihero into a groveling, pathetic figure that’s no fun at all. And the visual palette is so incessantly colorful and sparkly it makes Katy Perry seem like Norwegian death metal.
Here’s a radical idea: Blow off all three cinematic versions and read your kids the original story. (86 min)