The Grinch (2000)

24 Jan


Smith’s Verdict: *1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

It would be very tough to make a good feature-length live-action film adaptation of one of the wonderful short stories of Dr. Seuss. Ron Howard’s “The Grinch” is the first attempt to do so. Of course, with the half-hour-long animated adaptation that people are most fond of with glee, the idea to make a feature out of this story of the Grinch who Stole Christmas would lead to skepticism. But once you hear that Jim Carrey and Ron Howard are a part of it, you can’t help but raise your curiosity.

Yes, the usually funny-reliable Jim Carrey is the Grinch, and the usually-reliable Ron Howard is the film’s director. But neither one of them can save this odd, annoying, deplorable movie that is “The Grinch.”

Man, did I dislike this movie. It’s a badly-made, unappealing Christmas fantasy that is not charming in the slightest. And when it does go for charm, in that it tries too hard for whimsy, it made me want to vomit.

Where do I start with this movie? Well, for starters, the Whos of Whoville—who apparently live in a tiny snowflake, as the opening suggests—are horrible people. In the original story, they’re the least materialistic, least selfish, most giving and caring people in the Dr. Seuss world. Here, they’re all in competition with each other, constantly mocking what they don’t understand, and even arguing about which house has the brightest Christmas lights. They’re not merry; they’re just heinous. And on top of that, they look very creepy. They all have noses that look pig snouts, which is not visually appealing in the slightest.

Whoville isn’t so pretty either. It’s so grungy and uninteresting that it wastes the use of gigantic sets and just gives us unpleasant imagery that should have been enchanting.

Then there’s the green, monstrous Grinch himself, played by Carrey. First I should mention that Carrey does look indeed like the Grinch—the makeup (by Rick Baker) is first-rate. But…wow! I mean, wow! Carrey is so over-the-top, so obnoxious, so annoying, and not subtle in the slightest. This is the worst “comic performance” I’ve seen from Carrey since the “Ace Ventura” movies. In fact, I think this is worse. He may make the Whos look less horrible, strangely, but this Grinch is thoroughly unlikeable, nonetheless.

Then there’s the back-story of the Grinch and the reveal as to why he hates Christmas, which I didn’t think I needed to see, and judging from what I saw in flashbacks, I realized I was better off not knowing. And no, it wasn’t because of the creepy design of the younger Grinch. But it didn’t help.

Ron Howard made this movie? I am genuinely surprised. How is this style considered to be anything that Howard would like to make? He certainly had a bad day when he agreed to this, hoping that this “Christmas classic” would unfold itself. And he might have been lazy on set, when he realized what he was doing, considering the camerawork—particularly the multiple use of Dutch angles in this movie.

And so, the Grinch attempts to “steal Christmas” by stealing all Christmas presents from every house in Whoville, which is a sequence that is…well, pretty much the entire book! It took us an hour and 15 minutes to get to this point, and it is somewhat welcome…until the Grinch pulls a prank on the mayor (Jeffrey Tambor) kissing the rear end of the Grinch’s faithful dog Max. Ugh.

I mentioned there are moments of whimsy. But they’re all forced and contrived in the ways that they’re supposed to represent the “spirit of Christmas,” I guess. But how wonderful (sarcasm here)—the Whos learn the true meaning of Christmas after a long argument about what they have, what they don’t have, and what they want. How delightful. They learn that the magic of Christmas doesn’t come from materialism. How truly, truly magical (still being sarcastic). The Grinch learns as well. Aw, how touching. Now give us a crazy climax involving the Grinch having to save little Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) so we don’t have to dwell on this any longer. How complex. (OK, end of sarcasm here)

“The Grinch” is not magical, not jolly, not entertaining, not necessary, and not the Christmas classic that it should have been. You’re better off watching the half-hour-long animated version of it, and it’s easy to come across. Do yourself a favor and don’t sit next to the fireplace in your living room, watching this movie with your family. Just throw it in the fire.

One Response to “The Grinch (2000)”

  1. holly braden January 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Thank God someone realized how horrendous this movir was!

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