The ‘Divisive’ Christmas Film

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)


Back in 1966, an animated television short of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas was released, becoming a festive tradition for many families.

Jump to 34 years later and Ron Howard’s live-action remake of The Grinch (as it was originally titled), hits cinemas to a mixed reception.

Granted, much of the fallout was from the other side of the pond, but for those who grew up in the UK, neither the television short nor books were widely known or heralded here prior to the remake, making it many Brits first true introduction to The Grinch.

In effect, your familiarity with the source material and the animated version is likely to form your opinion of the Howard’s version.

Set in Whoville, a fantasyland within a snowflake, its dwellers are readying for Christmas. However, the mean, vindictive Grinch (Jim Carrey) is out to steal Christmas and ruin everyone’s favourite time of year.

Objectively, The Grinch is a flawed film and does fall short of many of its seasonal peers: the story is spread too thin across its 104 minute running time, it’s overly preachy and despite the undeniable sense of Christmas you get from the production design, the film is too dark and gloomy, almost muted at times.

But Howard does avoid being overly sentimental, despite any preachiness, and does his best to keep a drawn-out story engaging, helped in part by Anthony Hopkins’ velvet toned narration  – he could read out the phonebook and you would listen for hours.

The overall soundtrack is generically festive but innocent enough, however many of the songs are not up to scratch and are simply there for padding, namely Cindy Lou Who’s rendition of Where Are You Christmas?

Regardless of your feelings towards the theatrical version, it’s hard to deny Jim Carrey does an absolutely wonderful job as the title character.

Over the top in the most enjoyable way, he manages to balance the humour, despair, hatred and pure anger of the character. Lets face it, a small part of you is rooting for him to ruin Christmas.

Taking nothing away from Carrey, the make-up is a large part of the role and is up there with the very best, ending up in well-deserved Academy Awards for Rick Baker (winner of the inaugural Best Make-up award for An American Werewolf in London) and Gail Rowell-Ryan.

It needs to work to sell the character and it doesn’t distract in the slightest, considering how much of it there is, allowing Carrey to shape the role, shine through and give one of his very best performances.

Carrey makes this film; he’s having an absolute ball and it’s a pleasure to watch.

Some argue The Grinch has too many in-jokes, pop culture references and the like, but they are amusing and even the ones that fail get a laugh due to Carrey’s timing and delivery.

Many also dislike the importance the Who’s put on presents, but there is the counter argument of the importance needing to be there for The Grinch to actually steal Christmas, and by doing so, allow the film to come to it’s traditional Christmas conclusion. Besides, be honest, we all know presents are a big part of it, whether it be looking forward to your own or seeing the look on someone’s face as they open theirs.

The Grinch is a excellent one-man-show that despite it’s flaws, criticisms and comparisons, will deliver that Christmas cheer and most importantly, leave you entertained.

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