It’s my war. I wanted to be Grinchy about this new computer-generated-imagery-animated flick, The Grinch, before I even got to the theater, because it’s another reboot of the classic, CLASSIC, 1966 Chuck Jones animated TV cartoon special How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the exclamation point is part of the title) based on the Dr. Seuss book, starring Boris Karloff, BORIS KARLOFF, voicing the titular thief. Boris Karloff!
The other reboot was the year 2000 live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas (no exclamation point) directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey, and I have no memory of this film, even though I did see it, but three years later, in 2003, I saw The Cat in the Hat, another Dr. Seuss thing, and it was crappy and Paris Hilton had a cameo in it where she did ZERO, and I remember that more than I remember the whole 2003 Grinch movie.
So for me, the Miracle of Christmas is that I think this recent re-Grinching, while presenting considerably less Grinchian Darkness, and no Karloff (Benedict Cumberbatch is fine but he goes another way with the voice) is a successful and satisfying presentation of the stealing of Christmas from the whos of Who-ville, with a heartwarming and positive message (no spoilers), and the animation is luxuriant and interesting to watch. The story is a reasonable expansion of the original story material, with the addition of new characters, a subplot, and a Grinch backstory, so it doesn’t feel like a stretch to go from a 26-minute cartoon into a feature-length cartoon, and I don’t feel the need to defend my beloved and perfect TV Grinch from it, any more than the flawless original book needed to be defended from Boris Karloff and Chuck Jones. Christmas in Who-ville is large-hearted and expansive enough to welcome multiple categories of cultural product, except the Jim Carrey one.
More importantly, based on our screening audience which contained numerous children, this movie provides lots of visual action and slapstick gags and cuteness to keep them interested, and deeper still, in terms of the wee ones who may be in attendance, the Miracle of Christmas is that this is a 90-minute movie, one and one-half hours, flat, so there’s a pretty good chance any children you bring, or any children (or certain adults) sitting near you in the theater won’t melt down, so I would like to nominate this film for the Academy Award of Outstanding Achievement in Not Making a Movie Too Goddamn Long.
Meanwhile, the Miracle of Christmas in this cartoon is that Angela Lansbury, television’s Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote has a voice role in this flick as the Mayor of Whoville, which—and we’ll offer this up in the Holiday Spirit—means Ms. Lansbury ain’t one yet, a spirit, so cheers to her.
My only complaint with this film is the music wasn’t up to much. They use a lot of popular established Christmas classics, but they went and deconstructed and rearranged and lightened the 1966 TV special’s feature musical number You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch, sung by big band bass singer Thurl Ravenscroft, who was also the OG voice of breakfast cereal’s Tony the Tiger, and this could have been a chance to put over a new deep-voice singer, like maybe that kid Tay Zonday, that would have been the Miracle of Christmas.