The Grinch [AKA Dr Seuss’ The Grinch] (2018, dir. Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney)

A Christmas-hating misanthrope decides to steal the holiday from the nearby town of Whoville. While the Dr Seuss story stretches too thin to really make a movie, this is nevertheless a fun, clever attempt with great animation and fine voice work from lead Cumberbatch.

Here’s the trailer.

The Christmas Chronicles, Part 2 [AKA The Christmas Chronicles 2] (2020, dir. Chris Columbus)

Two years on, and an unhappy Kate Pierce is kidnapped by a cast-out elf aiming to get revenge on Santa. Sprawling grab-bag sequel, mashing up Milton, Gremlins and a hundred other properties. Messy and uncoordinated, though Kurt Russell is having fun, plus he gets another Blues Brothers-ish singalong set piece.

Here’s the trailer.

Dolittle (2020, dir. Stephen Gaghan)

A reclusive naturalist and doctor voyages to find a fabled fruit so he can save the life of the young Queen Victoria. Genuinely terrible revisioning of the Hugh Lofting talks-to-animals character: a movie assembled from multiple reshoots and dubbing sessions. Michael Sheen is fun as the villain, but that’s about it.

Here’s the trailer.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Here’s Xussia’s review.

Klaus (2019, dir. Sergio Pablos)

The wastrel son of a postmaster is given a challenging remote office to run as a final opportunity. Oddball but charming Santa Claus origin variant story, with some fine gags and great animation and design throughout. A welcome spin on the lets-save-Christmas storyline.

Here’s the trailer.

The Witches (2020, Dir. Robert Zemeckis)

New likeable version of Roald Dahl’s story. A change of setting and Anne Hathaway heading up a cast having a lot of fun. Some great moments, occasional poor VFX, but otherwise fun family territory. I prefer the 1990 version but this is still worth a watch!

Onward (2020, dir. Dan Scanlon)

Mismatched teen brothers in a post-magic fantasy land embark on a quest to communicate with their long-dead father. Straightforward relationship comedy/road movie with plenty of fun detail and some great animation, even if there aren’t any real surprises along the way.

Here’s the trailer.

Cars (2006, dir. John Lasseter [and Joe Ranft])

An arrogant Nascar racer is stranded in a small town off Route 66 where he/it learns some life lessons. Conceptually-weird riff on Doc Hollywood (the vehicular universe makes little sense) though with some good gags, voice performances, and design elements. Two direct sequels followed.

Here’s the trailer.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013, dir. Thor Freudenthal)

Percy and friends have to find the Golden Fleece so they can save their home. Cut-price sequel (no returning guest stars) with join-the-dots plotting as before, this time taking elements from the first two Indiana Jones movies as well as the Rick Riordan source books and wider Greek myth. Not very good; Part 3 (The Titan’s Curse) was never made.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief [AKA Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief] (2010, dir. Chris Columbus)

A New York teen finds he is Poseidon’s son, and is wanted by the Gods. Straightforward tick-box fantasy quest from the bestselling Rick Riordan books. Slumming starry character actors help, but aping of the same director’s Harry Potter formula reinforces the schematic way the monomyth is handled here. A sequel followed.

The Secret Life of Pets (2016, dir. Chris Renaud & Yarrow Cheney)

A New Yorker’s pet dog has to cope with a new arrival, and then getting lost in the city. Okay animation that dispenses with its potentially-subversive title in the first few minutes for something more linear and straightforward. Bright, though, with some good gags. Fun while it’s on. A sequel soon followed.