AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

I have a B.A. in Cinema Studies from New York University. This certification means that if you wanted someone to officially confirm for you that the feelings of sheer contempt you’ve been harboring for the past 18 years regarding 2000’s live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas were justified, I’m your man. It’s brutal, completely misses the point of Dr. Seuss‘ original book and shouldn’t exist.

That said, everything that the Jim Carrey “Grinch” gets wrong, Illumination‘s new animated The Grinch gets absolutely right.

Dr. Seuss’ track record on the silver screen may not be the most sterling, but The Grinch is by far the most faithful to his vision that’s been realized. The motivation, the style, the whimsy, the subtle complexity – it’s all here with the most potent holiday cheer imaginable.

Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect “Grinch.” From his Grinchiest moments to his heart growing (SPOILER ALERT) three sizes, you get the proper meaningful growth from the character that made the original 1957 book and 1966 animated adaptation such seasonal classics. Additionally, the new characters introduced don’t detract or distract from the film’s core faithfulness, making for the most palatable of feature-length concessions.

Now that you know that the story and performances deliver, let’s talk the technical aspects. Wow. It’s the best animated snow has looked in a movie since Frozen, and the sound design/editing here really feel like you’re alongside for the holiday season down in Whoville. Whether the scenes take place day or night, in the Grinch’s lair or within the city limits, it’s nothing short of breathtaking.

The music is stellar as well! Imagine telling someone eight years ago that Odd Future‘s Tyler, the Creator and Danny Elfman were not only teaming up to score a movie based on a Dr. Seuss book, but that it would be one of the film’s highlights. It’s magical.

The Grinch‘s tight 80 minute running time wraps up this gift perfectly. Not a relative that overstays their welcome, this movie is all tenderloin and the perfect length for kids and parents alike.

The Grinch opens Friday, November 9. Highly, highly recommended.

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