We all know the story: a mean, tiny-hearted green creature known as the Grinch hatches a plan to steal Christmas away from the inhabitants of Whoville. But thanks to a sweet-faced young girl named Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), the Grinch’s heart goes from being “two sizes too small” to “two sizes too big” and discovers the joys of the holiday.
Now, how do you take the book, which couldn’t be more than twenty some-odd pages long, and turn it into a 102-minute, live-action motion picture? Well, writer Jeffrey Price and director Ron Howard decided to fill in the length two ways, both bad. The first is to put in a manipulative, ridiculous back-story as to how the Grinch went from a misunderstood orphan to a six-foot tall, furry green wiseass. The second is to have a romantic triangle forming between the Grinch, the mayor of Whoville (Jeffrey Tambor) and socialite Mary May Who-vier (Christine Baranski) that goes nowhere fast. Add to that Howard’s overblown directing and a camera that never stops moving around, and you have a head-scratching mess that will make people wonder if Ron Howard directed this film, or his brother Clint.
In his Ace Ventura films, Carrey used his wacky sense of humor to bring the movies (somewhat) to life in lieu of a working screenplay. Apparently, he faced the same problem with this film and decided to ham it up big time. Sorry Jim, all you succeeded in doing is helping Howard and company pad out the running time. He does produce a chuckle here and there (best bit: a goof on the standard action genre hero running away from an explosion), but not enough to save the film. The rest of the cast, when playing against the $20 million human cartoon character, barely registers. Taylor Momsen is appropriately cute as Cindy and Anthony Hopkins provides his deep, classical voice as the narrator (Hannibal Lecter reads Dr. Seuss. Cool), even if it is only sporadically.
If there is something to applaud in the film, well, that would the visual effects that create a wonderful realization of Whoville. The sets are faithful to Dr. Seuss’ drawings in the book and the digital effects supplied by Digital Domain are top flight. Quite surprisingly, James Horner’s musical score does drive into your head like a jackhammer.
Bah-Humbug! The new, live-action version of the beloved Dr. Seuss story How The Grinch Stole Christmas is an unfunny, overblown and overlong mess that never really comes to life. Director Ron Howard and star Jim Carrey take one of the all-time holiday classics and turn it into Ace Ventura: The Nightmare of Christmas.
There is an audience for this film, and it is the under 10 years of age set. They will love Carrey’s goofy antics and crude humor (ah yes, nothing better than toilet humor in a Dr. Seuss story) and they will be wowed by the visuals. But for anyone over the age of ten, How The Grinch Stole Christmas will be like getting a lump of coal the size of Rome in their stocking. Do yourself and your family a favour and rent the video of the cartoon version. Now that is a classic.