Movie Review: The Grinch

THE GRUMPIEST green grouch is back with his Christmas-stealing shenanigans this November.

Based on the iconic Dr Seuss children’s tale How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, this 2018 update follows the plot of the 2000 live-action iteration starring Jim Carrey that has become a favourite holiday fixture.

It is almost Christmastime in Whoville, and the Grinch (voiced by Cumberbatch) is trying to distance his Christmas-loathing self as far away as possible from the cheeriness of Who-people and all-things festive-related.

He lives in a cave on Mt Crumpet with sole companion and ‘best dog’ Max, who despite constantly being on the receiving end of mean behaviour, remains loyal and loving to his owner.

The Grinch never has to leave his cave, which is outfitted with contraptions and gadgets that Max uses to help with daily chores, and a food reserve able to last until after Christmas is over.

But alas, his emotional overeating from the impending holiday causes him to have to search for more supplies, trekking down from his sanctuary with Max, past friendly Who-neighbours, and heading into the delightful Who-town.

He bumps into Cindy Lou Who (Seely) while in town, where the little Who girl expresses her desire to send Santa a letter, to which the Grinch ironically mistakes as selfish.

They pass jolly neighbour Bricklebaum (Thompson) on the way back, and find out – to the Grinch’s horror – that Christmas will be celebrated three times bigger this year.

With his tiny heart incapable of exuding warmth, the miserable soul hatches a truly not-nice plan of stealing Christmas.

Presented by Illumination – of Despicable Me fame – you can expect stunning clarity and animation done by the Universal Pictures-owned studio.

Lending his soothing voice as narrator is Pharell Williams, while Rashida Jones voices Cindy Lou’s single mother Donna Lou Who.

While Carrey’s enthusiastic portrayal of the Grinch remains a classic, the storyline of the 2018 animation reflects a more realistic and meaningful embodiment of everyday life now.

This primarily shows in Cindy Lou’s character.

On top of the same kind generosity that causes the Grinch’s heart to grow three times larger, she is given a purpose of her own in the story.

Cindy Lou is determined to ease her over-worked single mum’s burden, and it is her pure intentions that help the Grinch out of his dark Christmas-fearing shadow.

Many adults might identify with the Grinch’s feelings, regardless of the outrage directed in this case, regarding Christmas and merry-making.

Loneliness can rear its ugly head, especially during the holidays, but as this film reminds us: “To kindness and love, the things we need most.”

Book review: Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers

THERE is nothing quite like getting into the thick of things in a good book – unless it is quite literally getting into the thick of things in a good book.

And I’m not talking about an overactive imagination either. I’m talking about certain people’s special ability to enter into the story physically. Now, wouldn’t that be cool?

Welcome to Pages & Co, a bookshop owned by Tilly Pages’ grandparents. She is raised by them after her father’s death and her mother’s mysterious disappearance.

The lonely orphan finds comfort in her many books. Of course, she never expected her favourite characters to suddenly appear in the flesh in her gransparents’ shop.

Until one day, first Anne of Green Gables, and then Alice from Wonderland come to visit, and Tilly’s bookish adventures became very real.

Not only does Tilly discover that she can follow Anne and Alice into their thrilling worlds, but she also realises that she can actually enter into any story she chooses.

As she learns about how special her grandparents are and her own unique background, Tilly is determined to use her new-found ability – called bookwandering – to help solve the mystery of what happened to her mother. But danger may be lurking on the very next page …

This is author Anna James’ debut novel about the magic of books and the power of imagination, and it is definitely intriguing enough to keep the young ones entertained.