Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (promoted theatrically as The Grinch and is actually titled that in some countries) is a 2000 American 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 storyline 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, 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. While it was criticized for its storyline, characters and dialogue, the costume design, production design and makeup effects were generally praised. But, it was nominated for Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Screenplay.
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. The Grinch scares her and causes Cindy 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 then 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.
- The movie can be way too scary for a film meant 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, a example is a scene where the Grinch dresses in a costume with a very creepy face to get into a place in Whoville, also, his yelling in some scenes can be obnoxious to some viewers.
- The movie features an unnecessary 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- The Grinch's personality is a lot different than 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 the entire Dr. Seuss series. In this film however, 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. He behaves a lot like the Joker from the DC Universe if someone thinks about it.
- The Whos behave very little to their book counterparts as well, and their personalities have been 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 corrupted, competitive, selfish, extremely materialistic and cruel to the Grinch.
- In the extended version, the film seems to focus on the Whos more than the Grinch.
- Mayor Augustus May Who should’ve gotten a worse punishment. But no, he lost his girlfriend.
- There are many unlikable and one-dimensional characters except Cindy Lou and her family, Martha, and the Grinch (though he also can be unlikable in some scenes like the one mentioned in pointer 11).
- The Grinch’s backstory is very stereotypical and cliched.
- The scene where The Grinch saves Cindy, only for the former to regret doing so was extremely mean-spirited, that is like saving a dog from drowning only to kill him in a more painful manner.
- A very disturbing scene where the Grinch have Mayor May Who kiss the butt of his dog Max.
- The source material is a great story structure-wise.
- Decent performances.
- The Grinch's make-up and costume is fantastic, with Jim Carrey looking exactly like The Grinch.
- In fact, the make-up used on Carrey was so 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.
- Jim was able to be very expressive in his facial expressions, even with the make-up on.
- The Grinch's backstory is well handled, despite it being a bit of a cliché.
- Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou is really cute.
- Christine Baranski as Martha May Whovier is beautiful.
- The Grinch's song "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is still catchy, and Jim Carrey is a pretty good singer.
- While a bit mean-spirited at times, there are some funny moments here and there worthy of a good laugh:
- 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 another funny scene where the Grinch names the Whos he hates outside his home.
- When trying to scare Cindy, the Grinch says very quickly "I'm a psycho." before putting his torn shirt in his mouth and shaking it like a dog. Carrey's delivery on the line is a little funny.
- 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.
- "It's because I'm Green, isn't it?"
- The Grinch brought a good message of how everyone thinks Christmas was all about gifts.
- The song "Where Are You, Christmas", is actually pretty beautiful and heartwarming.
- Jim Carrey does a great job portraying the Grinch, and is highly entertaining.
Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 53%; 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."
- 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 says that she approves this movie as it doesn't have as much innuendos as The Cat in the Hat.