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Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (A Movie Review)

Updated: May 18, 2020

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Starring Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, Clint Howard, Taylor Momsen and the voice of Anthony Hopkins. 

Screenplay by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman.

Directed by Ron Howard.

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  105 minutes.  Rated PG.

Sometimes you sit down to a movie, and just wonder, “What were they thinking???”  The total failure of this movie is even more surprising, because it is directed by Ron Howard, who normally is very savvy in picking projects.  But, the film version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas would be horrible even if it weren’t completely upstaged by the 35-year-old cartoon version of Seuss’ classic.

First of all, the story fits perfectly in a 23 minute cartoon, so why would you want to pad it out to an hour and 45 minutes?  The padding…mostly remembrances of how the Grinch was teased by the Whos as a little boy… is totally ridiculous.  The Grinch doesn’t need a backstory!  He doesn’t need a motivation to hate Christmas!   He’s the Grinch!  That’s all the insight we need.  But, say, you really need to justify his irrational hatred of the Whos. Then, all you have to say is that his shoes were on too tight, his head wasn’t screwed on just right and his heart was two sizes too small.

Also, where did the filmmakers come up with the idea that the Whos were greedy, vain and bad?  It’s certainly in bounds, I suppose, to re-imagine a classic story.  But it seems just wrong to blatantly reject the rules it set, just to make the Grinch more cuddly.  In fact, Jim Carrey’s whole take on the role — the Grinch as an angry frat prankster, littering the screen with sub-vaudeville one-liners — is just annoying.

Speaking of annoying, did I mention how they turned Cindy Lou Who into a precocious little rebel without a cause?  Or the totally made up love interest (Christine Baranski)?  Or the truly ugly scenery?  Or the sub-Seuss attempts to pass off their own lines as those of the original poem?

But the most repellent thing about this film is that a story that is supposed to teach that “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store” is so blatant in it’s attempt to become a merchandising franchise… to sell Grinch action figures and Who bedsheets.  Save yourself an hour of your life and endless frustration, just watch the original cartoon again, instead of this big screen roast beast. (12/00)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright © 2000 All rights reserved. Posted: December 8, 2000.

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