RETRO REVIEW: Grinch-Off: Does “The Grinch” (2000) Still Steal the Show?

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With the holidays quickly coming, it only seems natural that Hollywood should revisit everyone’s favorite green-furred Ebenezer Scrooge-wannabe: The Grinch. The latest incarnation of the small-hearted hermit, Illumination Entertainment’s “The Grinch”, is the second major foray into the animated realm and second feature length adaptation by the character. Today, however, we will be looking at Ron Howard’s and Jim Carrey’s 2000 film, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Not only will we discuss whether this movie still hold its’ own against some questionable choices, but to also set up a sort of Grinch-off between new and old. (Stay posted next week…)

If you’ve been following Grinch-lore over the past years, you might remember that this movie has a mixed reception to say the least. You might either like it, or hate it with a passion greater than a sudden cardiac growth could even change. While I admit that it’s certainly not perfect, I genuinely enjoy this film. I can already feel the cursors over the “X” and the keys being pressed in the comments. Allow me to explain…

There is one thing that stands out about this film above everything else: Jim Carrey’s performance. Most criticisms don’t really give Carrey’s acting the credit it deserves. Sure, it might cartoonish, campy and over the top, but with a character created by Dr. Seuss himself, practically the OG king of zany, you would be right to assume that you’d want a little bit of weirdness in there somewhere.

Plus, Carrey’s performance and Howard’s backstory does something that not even the book or the classic special truly achieved in my opinion; make you sympathize with Grinch. You might argue that the backstory was unnecessary or unrealistic, but it is very hard to take a 20 page story and turn it into a full one hour, 44 minute film. Plus, if you can’t see the genuine passion and energy in Carrey in nearly every scene, you might want to consider if you might be the green one instead of the other way around.

My major problem with the film comes when the Grinch is not on screen. The Whos of this movie are what is so unbearable and unrealistic to me. In the book, we are supposed to sympathize with the Whos because even though they do celebrate the holidays using things and material goods, they are not bound to them and end up celebrating regardless of having nothing.

The Whos in this movie are so tied to the material that they might as well be capitalism incarnate. It is so over the top that they deny their own children simply to keep up with the Joneses. They don’t even sing right away and instead have to be guilt tripped into it like children. Plus, I understand that the makeup artists probably did the best they could, but the Whos are hard to look at.

That is one aspect that worked much better in the animated special. Every time the bumbling, green anti-hero is off screen, the movie drags. (Plus, putting Jeffrey Tambor into Victorian-esque curls was just a travesty by itself.)

While most of the jokes land their mark-mainly due to Carrey’s performance, there are surprisingly some raunchy jokes in the film. While most of them are fine, it is jarring to see quite so many shoved into a Dr. Seuss film. Some of them even go slightly overboard, in my opinion. (If you’ve seen the film, chances are you know exactly what ones I’m referring to.) They take you out of the world, and that is not a good thing when the world has so much potential.

Overall, it is a harmless film that has become subpar, but adored film for my holiday playlist. It has heart, charm and appeal despite the difficulties. Carrey and Boris Karloff are going to be hard to dethrone. Wow me, Cumberbatch. Wow me.



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