How The Grinch Stole $340,400,000.00

Jan 4, 2002 (Updated Apr 15, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Children will find it a visual feast.

Cons:Destruction of Dr. Seuss' story.

The Bottom Line: How The Grinch Stole Christmas would of been better if it was never made. Howard and Carey destroy Dr. Seuss' book and the adult-themed jokes are unforgivable.

He’s a mean one that Grinch! He’s also pretty rich! In excess of $300 million has already been pocketed by the Grinch – and the movie is well on it’s way to being one of the top 50 grossing films of all time[1]. Not bad for a green little twerp!

Now, The Grinch could have been a lot better. It could of not been made for starters. I’m not one usually to waste time with the worthless exercise of comparing an original book to it’s cinematic interpretation – but it would seem to be to be completely impossible to create an entire feature length film from a short story by the acclaimed Dr. Seuss. This “problem” is what plagued me for much of this film. The underlining story that makes up the book is transformed to the big screen – but most of the time the story in the movie is forced to stretch things out to make the movie long enough for Hollywood standards. The movie is stretched by imploring tons of antics by Jim Carey, lots of colorful set designs, and several small interjections by supporting characters. The end result is a mess of a movie – a visual feat for the eyes – but an un-enjoyable drab that becomes an insult to the loving original children’s book from which it came.

No one besides Jim Carey could of played the Grinch – but he does it with such zaniness and craziness that the Grinch becomes more of Saturday Night Live character played by Tom Green - than a lonely Whoo who needs to learn the lesson of what Christmas means. Carey spends most of the time ranting and screaming at the top of his lungs – words from the script that are so hard to understand at times that it becomes necessary to switch on the closed captioning. He makes ample use of his green, enlarged, hairy costume prancing around like he’s Ace Ventura. Jim Carey tries his best to maintain the inner evil and craziness of his character – but after a while his character become annoying. Plus, the original story didn’t represent the Grinch has being zany – he was just a simple, calm, destructive, little Whoo – who didn’t understand the love behind Christmas. Why was it needed to turn him into a ranting psychopath?

Jim Carey out shines and out does (in screen-time terms) any of the other characters – who simply exist basically to give the Grinch yet another person to act crazy in their company. Yes, they have lines – some of which are funny – but they mainly say them, wait (while we wait) for the Grinch to complete his acid-tripped response, and then they go on about their way.

The movie also destroyed the “innocent childhood” factor by utilizing several – small – background pieces that personally I’d rather wish was simply left out. I may be reading too much into it, but there’s a quick view of a bunch of Whoo’s dancing (partying) while they drop their keys into a glass jar. Either they are being “safe” by not driving home drunk – or they are about to engage in a “key party”. Either way (even though it is important to teach children not to drink and drive) this blatant inside joke to adults should have been left on the cutting room floor. There is also a scene where the Grinch rips off his skirt only to reveal a garter around – well you know – where a garter is normally put. In another scene he gets his face buried in some woman’s breasts. There are many more but I can’t recall them at this moment. The “key-party” reference is the worse I can think of and was basically unforgivable.

The movie also turns all the Whoville characters into money-hungry – party-goers who see Christmas simply as a time to shop till they drop. They run around in circles seeing everything as materialistic and in a way they too are lost as to what Christmas really means. If Dr. Seuss was still alive today, I think he would have been insulted that his beloved characters – those who were supposed to represent the love and humanity of Christmas – have been reduced to money hungry citizens who are not that far away from what the Grinch represents.

As for Ron Howard’s direction he must of taken a few lessons in Tim Burton’s film class – but just read the books instead of listening to the lectures. His film is full of bright colors without any substance – like a painter who just picks up various paint colors and throws them randomly at a canvas. The film is visually interesting to look at – but so is a sunrise or a sunset. Without any purpose or engaging story, Ron Howard’s direction just adds to and influences his disaster of a movie.

If I did have to say one positive note on this movie it would be – that it is probably enjoyable and entertaining to kids. These kids may of heard the story of the Grinch before but haven’t had the benefit of time and the experiences of life to understand some of the crudeness in this film. They probably will not care about many times Jim Carey rants and screams – and they will probably look past the horrible direction by Ron Howard. These elements do not register with them – and rightfully so – instead of concerning themselves with these items they should just sit back and enjoy a movie night out with the family. There are far worse films out there that some parents take their kids to (like the 30 or so kids I saw when I watched Scary Movie in the theater) so the Grinch is not that bad when compared to most movies. Yes, there are several instances of vulgarity that would of benefited from being left on the cutting room floor – but a simple explanation from Mom and Dad could clear any questions up.

Overall, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a horrible mess of a movie that may only benefit in the sense that it’s core audience may enjoy its presentation. Jim Carey is horrible, Ron Howard is horrible, the translation of Dr. Seuss’ book is insulting, and the inside-adult-themed jokes are unforgivable. But kids will probably enjoy it. At the time of this writing – it would seem enough people have enjoyed it to make it well on it’s way to becoming a $400 million dollar franchise. Sadly, I fear that somehow they will try to make a sequel to this movie (any movie that breaks over $100 million these day’s almost always has a sequel) which will just destroy the heart of Dr. Seuss’ book even more.

[1] Currently (1/4/02) How The Grinch Stole Christmas is number 71 on the top 200 movies of all time which includes both American and International box offices.

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