Given that it’s June and July is just around the corner, it’s time to talk about something timely: Christmas. Yes, Christmas. It’s a holiday steeped in cinematic tradition, with such offerings as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Claus, The Santa Clause, Bad Santa, and, of course, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It’s fair to say The Grinch and his oddly charming green, furry face have been a staple of Christmas for many audiences. Even when Jim Carey put on so much make-up to play the role he required training to cope with PTSD.
The original, classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas is pretty much the best iteration of the film. Boris Karloff was a suitably intimidating narrator and Grinch, and the film featured less than three voice actors (of whom one was actually credited for their work). Thurl Ravenscroft’s deep, room-shaking voice made for a truly memorable “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”. Yes, Jim Carey did an acceptable job as the Grinch and that film receives more than its fair share of moaning and groaning, but the original cartoon is where this story really shines.
Why, oh why, is there another iteration of How the Grinch Stole Christmas coming out in 2018? And more to the point: why is Benedict Cumberbatch, whose emotional range spans from bland conversation to controlled shouting, being tapped to voice the title character? Is there some secret corner of the internet that has been quietly demanding this since the live-action version of this film was released?
Before judgement is passed: Benedict Cumberbatch certainly is an actor. He has moments where he lives up to his hype, yes, in the same way that fidget spinners are momentarily exciting. During the times that he isn’t, however, he is about as exciting as plain, white toast.
His voice could work for the Grinch, yes, in that it has the right tone and register to it to be appropriately unsettling. That said? No one in history, living or deceased, has likely wondered what “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” sounds like with the dulcet tones of Britain’s favourite actor with a double-barrelled name.
There is little to go on, other than this appearing to be an animated feature that has the same style of animation as more recent Dr. Seuss films—a 3D-ish looking CGI that worked well enough for The Lorax, but isn’t anything spectacular.
Yes, there is always more room for Christmas movies in the pantheon of films. Audiences eat them up like too many candy canes. However, there are so many actors who could easily play the Grinch and may fit better than Cumberbatch…
By Phil Gorski
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