Blast this Christmas movie. It's joyful and triumphant.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas is directed by Ron Howard and stars Jim Carrey, Jeff Bridges, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, and Molly Shannon. The film is based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name and it won the Academy Award for Best Makeup.
The first of Dr. Seuss' infamous children's books to be adapted into a feature length film was How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which had been honored for decades with a 1966 animated TV special that has now become something of an essential holiday viewing every year. And while you may or may not enjoy the Jim Carrey version, you have to respect it nowadays for becoming the source of various memes and quotes that pretty much sum up what it's like for people experiencing the hardships of adulthood. Here's an example of what I mean:
I watched the film a couple times at a relatively young age, although I can't remember for the life of me if I liked it or not. I wasn't traumatized by Jim Carrey as the Grinch, so I guess that counts towards me being fond of it at least. Watching the film as an adult was a whole different experience; I caught on several funny things that a child watching the movie is bound to miss, and I developed a special appreciation for Jim Carrey's performance as the Grinch. There were brief, and only brief, moments that I almost convinced myself that this movie might be more suitable for adults, because the adult references aren't subtle in the slightest and the Grinch speaks directly of advanced topics like commercialism that no small child would give a damn about. What's crystal clear is crystal clear though: How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a family-oriented Christmas laugh-fest that defines its efforts in targeting children through Jim Carrey acting as goofy as can be and the movie dishing out slapstick humor and cartoonish sound effects that look and sound like something straight out of a Scooby-Doo episode.
If you've read the book and/or seen the TV animated special, you know the story. The Grinch is a mean, green, cave-dwelling creature who lives on the steep, snowy Mount Crumpit with his loyal dog Max just outside the town of Whoville. In this version, the town of Whoville and Mount Crumpit are located inside a snowflake. The Whos are happy and warmhearted people who love and adore Christmas more than any other holiday. The Grinch despises Christmas and the Whos, and because of how he pulls dangerous practical jokes on them, the Whos avoid the Grinch at all costs. However, there is one Who that takes an interest in the Grinch: six-year old Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), doing so after the Grinch reluctantly saves her life at the town's post office. Cindy Lou visits the Grinch at his home and tries to convince him to come to the town's annual Christmas event, Whobilation. The Grinch does decide to go to the Whobilation party, but ends up ruining it. This doesn't dampen the Who's Christmas spirit, however, angering the Grinch. He devises a plan to steal all of the Who's Christmas presents and decorations, hoping the scheme will break the Who's Christmas spirit once and for all.
I laughed throughout this movie many more times than I likely ever did while watching it at a young age, which again brings me back to the whole convincing myself that the movie is perhaps more enjoyable as an adult. The Grinch thinks life sucks, staying in seclusion and expressing his hatred for the Whos that happen to be more fortunate than him. A lot of us have those days where we hate the world and everyone in it, and some people will do whatever it takes to drag the world down to their level of misery. All of the feelings of anger, disgust, and envy that we might have when life isn't going too well are embodied by the Grinch, but because the movie still needs to give children an incentive to watch it, the Grinch comes at us with a tidal wave of kid-friendly, Jim Carrey histrionics.
- This is Jim Carrey's movie. He is required to carry it from start to finish no matter how many bumps and bruises are suffered along the way. Despite how over-the-top Carrey may be, he shows his total commitment to the role and shines like Clark Griswold's Christmas light-covered house. When the Grinch needs to be silly, Carrey sells it better than probably anyone else who might've been considered for the role. And when the Grinch needs to be serious, primarily when he realizes that Christmas means more than just gifts and decorations, Carrey is able to make it convincing, which I credit to his most highly underrated acting talent: being dramatic. To be fair, this movie is Jim Carrey being about 95 percent goofy and 5 percent dramatic, but he is one of the few actors I can think of whose dramatic sequences are never hindered by his comedic sequences.
- If you aren't a fan of Jim Carrey and/or can't tolerate his energetic slapstick comedy style, you certainly will not like this movie. I have to say, though, there are far too many quotable lines throughout, and it is largely why the movie is funny. The Grinch has a bottomless supply of memorable lines such as the ones in the meme I posted above, although (here I go again) I think adults would find a lot of the lines funnier than children. The Grinch sneaks into the town post office early on, and we see him throwing mail into various mail boxes, stating that the mail contains things like jury duty, blackmail, and even an eviction notice. Do children know about the pains of jury duty, and can they sympathize with someone who gets an eviction notice?
- No matter what Jim Carrey does, he is unable to salvage the fact that the plot feels empty and unfulfilling. We learn about why the Grinch hates Christmas, but there's not enough time spent on why he prefers to be as grotesque as possible and what exactly makes him so mean-spirited inside. Cindy Lou Who is little more than a plot device, and I gotta say, her parents are probably the worst parents in Whoville, letting her constantly sneak around and disappear for long stretches of time, showing little to no concern when she gets back home. And when the Grinch is stealing everything from her home, Cindy Lou wakes up and asks why the Grinch is taking everything (she thinks he is Santa Claus because the Grinch is wearing a basic Santa outfit). The Grinch doesn't conceal his green, hairy face at all, and I would bet money that any other child with a functioning brain could tell the difference between the Grinch and the white-bearded Santa Claus. Anyway, there's not a whole lot that happens up until the Grinch steals Christmas, though Jim Carrey does everything he can to keep the film from straying off into total boredom.
I've implied it enough throughout this review so I guess I'm just delaying the inevitable at this point; this live-action How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a lot funnier and is more of a triumphant viewing experience for adults than it is for children. Kids can watch this movie no problem, because kids are likely to be won over by Jim Carrey in one of his most Jim Carrey-esque performances ever. However, too many lines are likely to only be funny to adults who can understand and even relate to what the Grinch is saying and how he feels. I am probably in the minority when I say I think this movie is quite funny and is a worthwhile Christmas movie to watch around the holidays. It may deviate from the Dr. Seuss book, but with no risk comes no reward.
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