‘The Grinch’: An early Christmas gift worth taking

3 out of 4 stars

You’re a good one, Mr. Grinch!

The holiday season’s favorite green creature is back, and while he may not be better than ever, he’s still pretty good in “The Grinch,” which is like getting a good present in your Christmas stocking but hoping something is better under the tree.

“The Grinch” is much like Michael Myers, Jason and Freddy Kruger – he never dies. He just goes on hiatus, meaning it’s not a matter of if he’s coming back, but when he’ll pop his ugly head up again.

Case in point: the Grinch first appeared in Dr. Seuss’ children book in 1957. Less than a decade later, in 1966, director Chuck Jones and actor Boris Karloff teamed for an animated TV special. In 2000, Jim Carey turned himself into the title character in the live-action film “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” and the movie generated $354 million at the box office. Six years after that, the story hit Broadway.

So, really, it was just a matter of time until the Grinch returned to try to ruin the holiday spirit.  Directors Scott Mosier, making his feature debut, and Yarrow Cheney, who was behind the hit “The Secret Life of Pets” teamed with  producer Chris Meledandri (Despicable Me films) to put out a full-length, 86-minute adaptations of the yuletide tale.

The film’s color is amplified and the Grinch’s vibrant green color makes him look like he hasn’t aged a day in more than a half-century.

The movie, which is narrated by Pharrell Williams, centers on Mr. Grinch’s disdain for all things Christmas and his love for being alone with his dog high atop the city of Whoville, where Christmas is a lifestyle, not just a holiday.

The Grinch – voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch – is in a particularly sour mood since it’s just a few days before and the residents of Whoville are counting the minutes until Santa arrives.

But the Grinch has other plans. He schemes to ruin Christmas by dressing up as Santa and stealing all of the holiday lights, trees and presents on Christmas Eve while everyone is asleep.

If you’ve read the book or seen the Christmas special, you know what happens next. He meets the joyful Cindy Lou Who –voiced by Cameron Seely – and her single mom, (Rashida Jones). Cindy Lou has one mission: ask Santa for a special gift, which can’t be purchased.

While the movie is filled with slapstick humor geared toward a younger audience, it also delivers a powerful message about what the holidays should be about, which resonates with adults as much as kids.

It’s certainly a present worth opening.