How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Grinch wasn't too scary.
But Universal made it that way.
Look out, here they come.
Angry critics and fans at bay!
Genre: Christmas
Comedy
Directed By: Ron Howard
Produced By: Brian Grazer
Ron Howard
Written By: Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman
Based On: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
Starring: Jim Carrey
Taylor Momsen
Jeffrey Tambor
Christine Baranski
Bill Irwin
Molly Shannon
Cinematography: Don Peterman
Distributed By: Universal Pictures
Release Date: September 6, 2000 (TIFF)
November 17, 2000 (United States)
Runtime: 105 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $123 million
Box Office: $345.1 million
Franchise: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!


"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (also known as "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and simply "The Grinch" in the UK and promotional materials), is a 2000 American live-action Christmas comedy film directed by Ron Howard and based on the Dr. Seuss children's book of the same name. The film was released by Universal Studios on November 17, 2000. It was the first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a full-length feature film.

Because the film is based on a children's storybook, many additions had to be made to the story-line to bring it up to feature-length, including some information about the backstory of the title character. Most of the rhymes used in the book were used in the film, though some were slightly changed, and new rhymes were put in as well.

The film mostly received mixed reviews from critics, but was a box office success, it was a grossing $260 million in the United States and over $345 million worldwide. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and was also nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design and also won the Favorite Movie award at the Kids Choice Awards. While it was criticized for its screenplay, tone and innuendos, the musical score, Carrey's performance and production values (particularly the make up effects and costume designs) were generally praised, Despite the awards it won, it got nominated for Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Screenplay at the Golden Raspberry Awards.

Plot

On a tiny snowflake floating through the air, exists the town of Who-ville, home of the Whos. The town is joyously preparing for the coming of Christmas.

However, of all the Whos, a little girl named Cindy Lou Who is feeling depressed, and not at all in the holiday spirit. When her brother and his friends return from climbing Mt. Crumpit and claim they saw the Grinch, Cindy Lou grows curious as to the Grinch, whom she learns does not like Christmas. While in the Post Office with her father, Cindy takes some mail to a backroom and finds the Grinch trying to cause havoc in the mail room. However, the Grinch scares Cindy and causes her to fall into the mail sorting machine. To her surprise, the Grinch rescues her. Cindy then decides to investigate more into the Grinch's past, and interviews several people, including two elderly women who cared for the Grinch, as well as town socialite Margaret May-Who and the Mayor, both of whom were classmates with the Grinch.

From the information she collects, the Grinch as a child actually liked Christmas and even had a crush on Margaret. However, the Mayor (as a child) taunted the Grinch about this. The Grinch tries to create a hand-made present for Margaret and shave off his facial hair, but the bad shaving job causes the class to laugh at him, finally causing him to hate Christmas. After that, he ran away to Mt. Crumpit. As Christmas approaches, the Mayor announces the upcoming Who-bilation, where the town nominates a Cheer Meister. While the Mayor looks forward to another unanimous vote for himself, Cindy requests that they nominate the Grinch, feeling he deserves it the most.

With enough votes, Cindy gets the Grinch a nomination and climbs up Mt Crumpit to deliver it to him. The Grinch does not believe her at first, but reconsiders when he finds out he'll be receiving an award, and that Margaret May-Who will be attending. The Grinch agonizes over the decision to attend (partly believing this is a trick), before appearing to The Whos. While at first apprehensive, the Grinch appears to be getting into the Christmas spirit, until the Mayor crosses the line, giving Grinch the same shaver that Grinch tried using as a child (and saying "ahh, good times"). To add insult to injury, the Mayor proposes to Martha May-Who and offers her a car.

Enraged, Grinch begins to wreck the celebration, causing mayhem and burning down the Christmas tree. Cindy feels terrible that her plan to make the Grinch feel better has been ruined, and the Grinch returns to Mt. Crumpit. The Grinch feeling worse than ever, decides that this year, he'll stop Christmas from coming, by dressing as Santa, and stealing it. Fashioning a sled, he and his dog Max return to Who-Ville and make off with all the gifts and festive trimmings. Taking everything to the top of Mt Crumpit, he plans to drop it all over the edge.

Back in Who-ville, everyone is sad and distraught, with the Mayor blaming the whole thing on Cindy for inviting the Grinch. Cindy's father proclaims that he actually is proud of his daughter, because he's seen that Christmas is not about presents and decorations, but about being together. Soon, a number of other Whos join in and begin singing. This sound causes the Grinch to pause, wondering how they can be so cheerful. As he watches, the emotion gets to him, and his once shriveled heart grows 3 sizes. The Grinch then returns the presents to Who-ville and apologizes for his misdeed. At the same time, Margaret May-Who tells the Mayor she is rejecting his marriage proposal, and that her heart belongs to the Grinch. In the closing of the film, the town feast is held, with the Grinch carving the Roast Beast.

Bad Qualities

  1. The film can be way too scary for children (especially since that was the demographic for the original book and 1966 animated special), mainly due to the insanely dark atmosphere that's present in almost every scene in the movie, as well as the presence of scenes that can be extremely scary for younger audiences, such as the scene where the Grinch dresses in a costume with a very creepy face to get into a place in Whoville, and also, his design, attitude and yelling in some scenes can be obnoxious to some viewers, while making a darker-tone adaptation of a light-hearted work isn't usually a bad idea, this film takes it to the extreme to the point that Roger Ebert criticized the film's tone and said the production should have been "jollier" overall.
  2. The movie features an unnecessary, stereotypical and cliched Grinch's origin story that creates a big contrast with the simple, effective, entertaining lesson about the true meaning of Christmas of the original book/animated film. The presence of the backstory also delays the actual start of the story for an hour and a half, probably just to fit the film's runtime.
  3. The Grinch as well as all of the Whos, except for Cindy Lou and Martha May Whovier, look awkward, maybe even terrifying. Even worse, they're all just ordinary human beings and performed by live performers because of it, which in turn was an abysmal excuse to cheap live-acting on camera to the point they don't look anything like Whos at all in the Dr. Seuss universe compared to this movie.
  4. Whoville isn't appropriately represented; it doesn't look like the original work suggest it is, and most of the shots are extremely dirty and smoky as if the entire town were on fire (in fact, this can actually end up contributing to the film's scariness factor).
  5. The Grinch's personality differs greatly from his book and animated counterpart. In both the original book and animated special, he's a calm, selfish, manipulative, cunning, cruel, hateful, uncaring, heartless, abusive, emotionless, soulless, terrifying, and foreboding creep who mistreats his dog Max and what makes him eviler is that he has no sense of humor whatsoever, making him one of the darkest villains in any Dr. Seuss book and has been compared to the Joker of the DC universe. In this film, however, while he's still somewhat likable, he's a loud, obnoxious, sadistic, malevolent, psychotic, maniacal, and destructive sociopath who now has a lot of comedic elements added to him, making him very out of place, and although the Grinch from both the book and animated film does have some bits of humor, those were very few and far between, the Grinch's crazy personality in this film could also potentially startle sensitive audiences, not helping that his design looks extremely weird when compared to other adaptations.
    • There's also a scene where the Grinch makes an incredibly creepy and ugly smile face.
  6. Most of Who's were badly flanderized and behave very poorly unlike their book counterparts as well, and their personalities have been completely butchered beyond belief. In the original book, they love the spirit of Christmas more than anything that's material; they hold hands, they sing together, and they love each other, including the Grinch for as evil as he is. In the film, however, they are the exact opposite, since they are corrupted, competitive, ignorant, selfish, self absorbed, cold-hearted, extremely materialistic and cruel to the Grinch. They make the Grinch, who later brings a good message of how everyone thinks Christmas is all about gifts, seem like a hero (or an anti-hero since he still does jerkish actions every now and then) and have a legitimate reason to why he hated Christmas so much.
  7. Mayor Who, who used to be the bully of the Grinch, barely has any character development whatsoever.
  8. In the extended version, the film seems to focus on the Whos more than the Grinch.
  9. There are many one-dimensional characters (except for Cindy Lou and her family, Martha, and the Grinch).
  10. Relating to the previous pointer, the film can get really mean-spirited at times, such as one scene where the Grinch saves Cindy, only for the Grinch to regret and deny doing so, and later wraps her in gift paper and is like saving a dog from drowning only to kill it in a more painful manner.
  11. While not as much as The Cat in the Hat (2003), there is a number of inappropriate jokes, laughable scenes and innuendos that are not only unfunny, but don't fit in a Dr. Seuss movie. For example, there's a very disturbing, disgusting and dreadful scene where the Grinch has Mayor Augustus May Who kiss the butt of his dog Max, which is incredibly inappropriate for a PG film as well as the line he looks just like your boss.
  12. The film is unnecessarily long, lasting 105 minutes, for comparison, the 1966 cartoon managed to get its message in 25 minutes, which is less than a quarter of this film's runtime. In fact, the 2018 adaptation is actually shorter by 19 minutes.
  13. Although The Grinch's make-up and costume is fantastic, his face looks more like a dog than the original design, especially the nose.
  14. Many of the Grinch's facial expressions can range from stupid, ugly, and weird to insanely terrifying, and while it's understandable, they could potentially scare sensible children and pushes the horror elements of the film a lot more.
  15. The scene where a random Who climbs up the mountain to where the Grinch lives to yodel (which was part of the scene where the Grinch wants to decide what to wear for the party he was invited to) is annoying because of the terrible yodeling sung by the Who heard in the scene.
  16. The film's weird somewhat humorous tone (on top of it being a box-office success) was actually the reason on why the 2003 Cat in the Hat film was changed into the way it ultimately was, as Universal completely rewrote the aformentioned film's script from being extremely faithful to the original book into being similar to this film's due to the success it experienced, so in a way, this film is responsible for making the Cat in the Hat film pretty terrible.

Good Qualities

  1. Jim Carrey is absolutely hilarious in the movie and portrayed the character perfectly; in addition, his make-up and the costume are fantastic. He also improvised a lot of moments that worked in the movie.
    • In fact, the make-up used on Carrey was very thick, and putting it on took so long that it nearly drove him mad, so they had to bring in a CIA operative to train him into remaining calm while it was being applied. Ron Howard even showed solidarity towards Carrey by dressing up like the Grinch to comfort him.
    • Carrey was able to be very expressive in his facial expressions, even with the make-up on.
  2. The soundtrack that was performed by James Horner is spectacular.
  3. The source material is well structured, since, while some scenes are unfaithful, most of them stay true to the source material well.
  4. The visuals are decent and even a big improvement over the 1966 Chuck Jones cartoon, despite it look long scary.
  5. The Grinch's backstory is well handled, despite it being a bit of a cliché. Indeed, giving the Grinch a backstory to flesh out the origins to his hatred towards Christmas is a good idea after all, as the original book didn't mention why the Grinch hated Christmas in the first place (with the Narrator speculating that maybe it was because his heart was two sizes too small) and just opted to steal Christmas out of spite towards the innocent Whos.
    • In addition, the anti-consumerist message and the fact that Christmas is a celebration of joy is also well-handled despite opinions that it's too political. Nowadays, Christmas has become a materialistic holiday in which people think they need material presents to celebrate it just like the Mayor and most of the Whos do, so the scene in which Lou Lou Who finally stands up to the Mayor and calls him out for not realizing that the Christmas' spirit is being with your family and those you love is very heartwarming and poignant.
  6. The Grinch's song "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is still catchy, and Jim Carrey is a pretty good singer.
  7. While a bit mean-spirited at times, there are plenty of funny moments here and there:
    • In the scene where the Grinch is at his home, he yells at an echo and always gets talked backed, the Grinch yells out "I'M AN IDIOT!!!", only for it to echo out "YOU'RE AN IDIOT!!!", the Grinch then whispers while talking back to the echo, only for it to still yell out "YOU'RE AN IDIOT!!!".
    • There’s a scene where the Grinch as a baby bites Santa's head off a plate and says "SANTA BYE-BYE".
    • There's a scene where the Grinch names the Whos he hates outside his home.
    • There's one scene where the Grinch pulls off his tablecloth, keeping all the contents on the table perfectly, only for him to go back and knock them off himself. What makes this even funnier is that it happened completely on accident, as Carrey was supposed to knock over everything from the get-go.
    • "It's because I'm Green, isn't it?"
    • "If you utter so much as one syllable, I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN AND GUT YOU LIKE A FISH!... If you'd like to fax me, press the star key."
    • "1:00, wallow in self-pity. 4:30, stare into the abyss. 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one. 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me. I can’t cancel that again. 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing. I’m booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness."
  8. The song "Where Are You, Christmas", performed by Faith Hill, is actually pretty beautiful and heartwarming.
  9. Taylor Momsen is very cute as Cindy Lou.
    • Speaking of Cindy Lou, both she and Martha lack the unintentionally spooky Who make-up.
  10. It has a fewer amount of innuendos and juvenile humor compared to the next film and gained a cult following for those who grew up in the early 2000s. This might explain why Audrey Geisel approved this film.
  11. The yodeling that was sung by a Who, although annoying, could possibly be hilarious for some viewers.
  12. Anthony Hopkins did a great job narrating the movie and even interacted with the Grinch in some moments.
  13. Richard Horvitz (pre-Invader Zim, Grim Adventures and Helluva Boss fame) got to voice the Grinch's answering machine.
  14. Some of the scenes were good recreations of the 1966 Chuck Jones cartoon, such as where the Grinch steals the presents and Max getting covered in snow.
  15. When the Grinch spies on Santa as he leaves, you can actually see Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Reception

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 49%, based on 142 reviews, with an average rating of 5.54/10. The critical consensus reads, "Jim Carrey shines as the Grinch. Unfortunately, it's not enough to save this movie. You'd be better off watching the TV cartoon". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 46 out of 100 based on 29 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars, referring to it as "a dank, eerie, weird movie about a sour creature" and said, "There should be...a jollier production design and a brighter look overall... It's just not much fun." Ebert observed that Carrey "works as hard as an actor has ever worked in a movie, to small avail." Nevertheless, he decided that "adults may appreciate Carrey's remarkable performance in an intellectual sort of way and give him points for what was obviously a supreme effort".

Trivia

  • Director Ron Howard, who loves the original, said the animated original is such a perfect classic that he didn't even attempt to recreate it. So he at least has respect for the original.
  • Audrey Geisel, the widow of Dr. Seuss, said that she approved this movie as it doesn't have as much innuendos as The Cat in the Hat.
  • Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, and Tom Hanks were all considered for the part of the Grinch. Jim Carrey (dressed up as the Grinch) and Eddie Murphy (dressed up as Sherman Klump) would have a moment off-screen.
  • In home media versions of the movie, once the movie ends, it shows a "This Motion Picture Has Been Rated PG-13/ Parents Strongly Cautioned" screen, it is likely that the film was originally going to rated PG-13 at one point, or it could have been a VHS printing error.
  • This film was originally going to be directed by Tim Burton, with Robert England as the Grinch, but Robert Englund was replaced by Jim Carrey and Tim Burton had other films in his agenda.

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