Virgin Movie Review – Jim Carrey’s The Grinch (2000)

Jim Carrey is the grinch
He’s a mean one. Also deranged, and possibly a pedophile.

Holy hell, this was directed by Ron Howard? Normally I love his touch. And as for Jim Carrey, I’ve always been a fan. Not with this. This is the Carrey equivalent of Bill Murrey’s Garfield: a true WTF?

I imagine (and know for sure, based on my own great-niece’s preferences) some people like this Grinch. Maybe they weren’t weaned on the 26-minute 1966 animated Dr. Seuss version like I was, that with even this year still made me cry with happiness. CRYING. TEARS running down my face.

[pullquote]This one? I was confused. I was bored. I had a headache from the non-stop and frankly exhausting Grinchy chatter intended as humor, and came off just weird — the bad kind of weird.[/pullquote] It felt more like a Tim Burton offering. (Which is weirder than ever for me, since I normally am not a Burton fan. But then, I just did a Virgin Review of Tim Burton’s 2001 Planet of the Apes and kind of loved it. It’s clearly opposite week for me.)  😉

Even Max the dog couldn’t save this effort, and I previously gave the 2018  ‘meh’ new Grinch full length animal feature a D+ for cute animal action. This one, sadly, gets only a D, at best, for Whoville’s creative set design, and a nice kiddo as Cindy Lou Who. This Cindy Lou was sweet, and saved the 2000 Grinch from a D- or F+ grade.

By contrast, I gave the old 1966 Christmas special an A grade, and I don’t give that grade away easily. I expected it look old at the seams…but it happily held up through time, and made my own heart swell three sizes by the end.

Back to the 2000 live-action Grinch. I watched it last night with zero foreknowledge and the best of intentions. And for the first time in EVER in Netflixing films, I had to fast-forward over entire sections of dullness. I would have turned this off and picked something else,  but had to watch it through for my review.

Also, I wanted to know why the Grinch was compelled to sound like Sean Connery? Minor note, but it distracted me. [pullquote position=”right”]Jim Carrey normally is brilliant in his vocal and physical humor. Was he directed to filibuster like this?[/pullquote] Is he proud of this film?

There were a few funny jokes landing among the barrage of awkward efforts: I thought the joke about Santa’s reindeer was cute: “On Thrasher and Crasher and Vomit and Blitzkrieg…” <—- heh. Some moments of cleverness stuck, but most felt like film spaghetti tossed at the wall to see what would stick. Robin Wiliams mastered that kind of improvisation, and maybe that’s what Carrey was going for.

Even the songs lacked. I expected a fun delivery of the classic “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”…well, yawn. Then the final “Fahoo Foray” song was merely competent. Moving on.

What about the Whos in Whoville? Here was another cardinal sin:  these townspeople were unpleasant, underhanded, and a little bit creepy. While the Grinch, instead of being merely a cranky, damaged soul, was just deranged. I have no idea why this movie went down the paths it chose. Dark, weird, sinister, yada yada. [pullquote]The Grinch tale at heart is a story about alienation, rejection, and isolation, but it isn’t supposed to make you wonder if predatory sexual advances (with a whiff of pedophilia) are appropriate.[/pullquote]

The Cindy Lou character saved this version me, but expanding her role also undercut the rest of what should have went down that fated Christmas morning in Whoville. I know this is subjective, but one nice child can’t a plot pivot make. I didn’t buy this Grinch’s transformation: I don’t think he did either. We weren’t given a beat to breathe or let the story have any emotional landing space.

A tale of two Grinches
Some Grinch on Grinch action.

Alternatively, the new 2018 full-length Grinch movie didn’t make me cry either. It had nice technical animation and cute critters, but the story was a cup of plain vanilla yogurt.

So here it is: I say it’s time to stop messing with a classic. It’s like when Peter Jackson made that short Hobbit book into three bloated, sometimes off-putting films: like butter scraped over too much bread. If you’re a big LOTR fan, you’ll get the reference.  But anyone who’s had breakfast will get it anyway. 🙂

Movie Grade: D 

Movie Rewatch Review — Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

He's still a mean one.
He’s still a mean one.

With the newest incarnation of The Grinch in theaters this year, we thought it was time to take a look at the history of this mean green creature, who is both dastardly and oddly sympathetic.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas  (1957) – The original kid’s book by Dr. Seuss is beloved, and for very good reasons. It started it all, showing us a grumpy Gus who hates the holiday (shades of A Christmas Carol). He steals, he lies, he abuses his dog Max, and breaks Cindy Lou Who’s trust…but eventually hears the joyous music and comes through in the end. This is an allegory for humanity, in a real way. [pullquote]We can be mean, we can hurt others to hide our own miserable loneliness…but if we open ourselves — just a crack — to others…well, we might learn to belong after all.[/pullquote] Who hasn’t known this kind of profound alienation? Who doesn’t secretly dream of being accepted despite the petty crimes we’ve committed? The message hits us right in the feels. Dr. Seuss knew it. This is among the three top stories he gifted to generations of children. (Along with The Lorax and The Cat in The Hat. Can’t argue with those.)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas –  A faithful and rousing rendition of the Dr. Seuss book, the animated 26-minute special from 1966 is definitely something…yes, special. Growing up with this, it was a traditional treat to rewatch it every year, as a child. I still watch it now to herald the holiday season. Good animation, great songs (I still sing the refrain), and a story to make your heart grow three sizes in the end. A-level work.

The Grinch (2000) – The live action version with Jim Carrey dropped on the scene to a mostly poor reception. (It seems Carrey doesn’t always have the magic touch.) I recently watched this for the first time, and found it lacking. Middling, dank, arbitrary, and a bit sour. Ron Howard himself directed, and usually produces great films. What happened to the color, the joy, the fun? Not everyone panned it, however. The Wikipedia reports, “Despite mixed reviews that often compared the film unfavorably to the 1966 special, it won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was also nominated for Best Art Directionand Best Costume Design.”

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018) – [pullquote position=”right”]Did we need ANOTHER Grinch? Why reboot this one; it’s been done enough, surely? [/pullquote]In spite of my fears, every time I saw the new animated trailer in theaters I smiled and giggled in spite of myself. It looks a world of better than the live action version. I think they might get it right! I’m not the kind of critic who wants to see the same darn themes rebooted every few years, but agree Pixar knows how to craft a film. The trailer looks charming and fun: I’m all over it. If it doesn’t suck, it might put this story to bed, finally. NOTE, after seeing the 2018 movie: it didn’t. Here’s my Grinch-like review.

Watch The Grinch Trailers, to get you in the proper mood for the Mean One this Christmas: 

The Final Grinch Trailer:  

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)