Illumination gives Dr. Seuss’ green holiday meanie the Despicable Me treatment in its new animated feature. (If co-director Scott Mosier’s name seems familiar, it is—he is Kevin Smith’s longtime producer.) While The Grinch will not replace the 1966 animated special as an annual viewing tradition, it’s packed with more seasonal joie de vivre than Ron Howard’s messy live-action adaptation.
The bulk of The Grinch will be familiar to viewers, young and old alike. After hating the season for many years, the Grinch finally decides to end Whoville’s Christmas by stealing all of its decorations, gifts, etc. The animation is lively and creative, introducing some swell new characters, like Kenan Thompson’s Mr. Bricklebaum and an XXXL reindeer named Fred.
The Grinch’s dog, Max, remains as charming as ever, but having grown up on a Grinch who sounds like Boris Karloff, Benedict Cumberbatch’s chosen voice may not be so much inaccurate as unexpected. Then again, so is the B-plot about Cindy-Lou Who (v. Cameron Seely) asking Santa to help her struggling single mother, Donna (v. Rashida Jones), that seems like the setup for a misguided romcom sequel in which the Grinch struggles to parent his stepchildren.