The Grinch (2000)

THE GRINCH is a bland one.  Though practically a license for Univer-
sal Studios to mint their own money, the long-awaited, longer-hyped, 
Jim Carrey-starring, Ron Howard-directed live-action update is more 
snore than score.  Oh, Carrey's make-up job is the stuff of legend, 
as the trailers have ably indicated.  And the explosively Seuss-ian 
art direction is sure to entertain the wee ones.  For the rest of us, 
read: anyone over the age of ten, the hard-trying film is surprising-
ly strained.  For starters, there's an unwelcome sympathetic streak   
underscored repeatedly and regrettably by composer James Horner, here  
providing another of his trademark smothering, syrupy soundtracks.  
Ugh, baby.  Forget nostalgic value, as well, as the terribly too-ser-
ious tone cancels out (most of) the subversive streak inherent in 
both the story and Carrey's gleefully malicious performance.  Sigh.

Another hard-to-fathom liability are the missing musical interludes 
known so well from Chuck Jones' cartoon version.  Nope, no jaunty, 
Thurl Ravenscroft-sung (the voice of Tony the Tiger) excerpts of 
"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" interspersed here.  Just a hideous  
early lullaby that's sung on screen and almost stops the film cold.  
(This critic laughed out loud.)  And, about an hour in, the afore-
mentioned "Mr. Grinch," sung mostly by Carrey and performed in a 
slower, swingin'-er, bluesy-ier style that's hardly satisfying.
Stink, stank, stunk, indeed!  At least Jimbo's costumed performance  
is always on the mark.  Carrey expectedly gives it all, despite ap-
pearing in only, oh, two-thirds of all scenes.  Egad is he a master 
at expression-- eyes and mouth and face and brow, all capable of so 
many, marvelous things.  Wish he didn't affect as deep a voice, tho.  
I missed a couple key lines...

Ron Howard directs with a soft hand-- gee, now *there's* a surprise--
wisely giving Ace Ventura ample room to strut his green, furry stuff,
but, alas, also allowing the scenery to get the better of the actors.  
Like too many budget-busting fantasies before it-- e.g. HOOK, BATMAN 
AND ROBIN, etc.-- the impossibly huge (and fabulously curved-edged) 
sets often swallow the thespians whole.  Simply, there's too much to 
take in inside too many shots.  (It gives the bored viewer something 
to do, though.)  There's a ton of story, too-- a good 30 minutes more 
than necessary, if you ask me-- most of it centering on little Cindy 
Loo and her efforts to warm up the title character.  Yawnsville, pop. 
500.  Well, 'cept for an inspired flashback sequence showing Grinchy 
as an alienated grade-schooler.  (I daresay it's also the only point 
in the overachieving film actually possessing of a soul!) 

Thank Claus for the many throwaway details-- Christmas light machine- 
gun, Grinch's mouth-as-suction-cup, dirty socks that come alive, and 
even a bowl of car keys at Whoville party suggesting a little bit o' 
wife-swapping!  (A blonde to take home or maybe brunette?  Or the 
neighbor's cute redhead whose hard to forget?)  Several sly, self-re-
ferential ("I hate talking in rhyme!") add bonafide value as well.  
Same for all those manic monologues and silly soliloquies of Car-
rey's, where he practically shakes the film awake each time.  Imagine 
if the movie *itself* crackled with as much energy!  With Jeffrey 
Tambor, Christine Baranski, Molly Shannon, and Jeremy Howard, all of 
whom add absolutely nothing.  Anthony Hopkins' narration is at least 
a *little* better.  Best of the bunch is whoever plays Cindy Loo.  
She's cute.  Warning:  Sensitive souls may wish to exit early, before 
the triple-strength sappy ending saps 'em.  Humbug!  (Rated "PG"/~100 

Grade: B- (as kid pic)
Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Grinch on Grinch

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros