Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole
Carreying On from the Animated Classic
After having been a fan of the cartoon for my entire life, I was excited
when I heard they were planning to make a big-screen version of The Grinch.
Ron Howard is a fine director, and Jim Carrey is an excellent actor
(especially for a zany role such as this), so I didn't see how it could
possibly be anything but great.
Never think like that.
The movie isn't bad, but doesn't come anywhere near the quality of the
original 1960's cartoon. The problem arises when you try and take a 30 minute
show and stretch it into 100. Naturally, you're going to get a whole bunch of
stuff you don't need to see.
The story still focuses on The Grinch and his dislike for the Whos and
Christmas. But it goes 'way too deeply. The screenwriters (Peter S. Seaman and
Jeffrey Price) wanted to explain just why The Grinch was such a Grinch, so we
get a flashback into his childhood, how he was teased by his classmates, and
had a crush on the lovely Martha May Whovier. Then, at Christmas, he got teased
one too many times and ran away to live on Mount Crumpet. From that day
forward, he hated everything Christmas and everything Whovian.
Something a lot of Hollywood writers don't seem to understand is that
some things are better off unexplained. In Tremors, we never did find out where
the creatures came from, and it doesn't matter. They would undoubtedly have
tried to come up with some crazy explanation that would take away from the
enjoyment of the film. Like here: it doesn't matter why The Grinch is a Grinch.
Especially when we get a perfectly good explanation with his heart being two
sizes too small (also that maybe his head wasn't screwed on right, and his
shoes were too tight). The Grinch childhood stuff really damages the movie.
If they needed to fill space, they should have spent more time focusing
on The Grinch stealing Christmas. I always thought that part was too short in
the cartoon anyway. Aside from that, it would have given Jim Carrey another
opportunity to bufoon around.
Speaking of Mr. Carrey, it is he who saves the film. No one on the
planet (that I know of) could have played The Grinch better. It's the perfect
blend of physical comedy and zany shenanigans, the stuff that made him
There are two other major problems with the film. One is that the
message of the cartoon was pretty much lost here. The cartoon teaches us that
Christmas is about more than presents. The movie does the same, but in a much
shallower way. Cindy Lou Who is the only one who thinks Christmas is more than
gifts, and the mayor of Whoville is a mean, nasty old whostard. All the Whos
should be nice people, and all of them should know that Christmas means more
than what it seems on the surface. They shouldn't need a young girl to teach
them. It should be they who collectively teach The Grinch.
The other flaw is the look of the film. If someone like Tim Burton had
been in charge, Whoville would have been bright with colour, and The Grinch's
lair would have been dark and menacing. Instead, both places look pretty much
Credit should, and deserves to, be given to Rick Baker's makeup. The man
is easily the master when it comes to makeup effects, and he manages to make
Carrey look like he should. A lesser actor would have become lost and
unrecognizable beneath all the green fur.
But, even with all its flaws, the live-action version of The Grinch is
still reasonably enjoyable.
Let's face it: it could have been a lot worse.
The copy we reviewed was only a screener, so there are no extra
features. The audio and video are both very good, however. The picture is shown
in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and seems absent of any sort of grain or fuzz
- except for that on the Grinch himself (nice to see). The 5.1 Dolby Digital
comes in handy for scenes like The Grinch going down Mt. Crumpet, or going
crazy in Whoville. Fortunately, the usual "Property of Universal," and all that
jazz that mar such pre-release screeners only show up occasionally.
A nice touch, as far as screeners go.
Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas, from Universal Home Entertainment
105 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16X9 enhanced, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Starring Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Tambor and
Screenplay by Peter S. Seaman and Jeffrey Price
Produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Directed by Ron Howard
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think