How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Reviewed on 2008 December 2
I finally tried to watch this thing all the way through, seeing if it was better than initial glimpses of it led me to believe. It was about what I expected it to be. I put aside my fondness for the book and original cartoon and tried judging the movie on its own merits, and it still failed.
The Grinch (Jim Carrey) loathes Christmas, Whoville, and the Whos. (We get an explanation of this in the movie and it doesn’t help things.) The Whos almost deserve it in the movie, because they’re an obnoxious, materialistic bunch. We’re introduced to them shopping in a frantic setting that looks like one of those Visa commercials, with a big cheer going up when it’s announced one of them maxed out his fourth credit card. Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) plaintively wonders if this is what Christmas is really all about, to the chagrin of her father Lou (Bill Irwin) and hizzoner Mayor Augustus Maywho (Jeffrey Tambor). This is an alien concept to the Whos, who spend like maniacs and have wild holiday parties and rivalries over lighting contests. Meanwhile, back in his lair on Mt. Crumpit, the Grinch still wants Christmas stamped out, and he plots how he’s going to ruin things for the Whos.
There’s more to it than this, but in case your coerced by a young relative into watching it this season, I don’t want to ruin it for you any more than I may already have. I admit I thought Christine Baranski as town hottie Martha May Whovier was pretty funny, and the dog was a riot. Taylor Momsen did an amazing job too. Those are the few bright spots. The set design was almost too much, and after watching this I got that overwhelmed feeling we women sometimes get after too much time at an overlit, overstaffed makeup counter. Someone said it looked like a Happy Meals® toy and they’re exactly right. I can only imagine what the actors had to go through in the make-up chair every morning, but the end result was that they looked like things that escaped from a nuclear lab, and not the good-natured critters from the Dr. Seuss book. And then we go from cynical to overly-sweet, not to mention preachy. There’s a tooth-aching song in the middle of the thing about looking for Christmas, well sung by Momsen, but it was too much here. I don’t know what Ron Howard was thinking here; he hit it out of the park with Cinderella Man and this had so much sugar on it in places it was crunchy.
One chocolate morsel, in an odd color.