Growing up, I saw a lot of movies with my parents, sometimes with both and sometimes separately. Some movie going experiences I remember, like seeing TITANIC and having my mom try to block out Kate Winslet’s breasts from my nine-year-old eyes. I also remember a packed theater howling with laughter, my dad included, while watching Adam Sandler in THE WATERBOY. I also remember the utter disappointment watching Ron Howard’s vision of a Dr. Seuss classic with an over-the-top performance by Jim Carrey. My attitude and approach to that notion nearly two decades later hasn’t changed.
The 69-page children’s book translated nicely into a 26-minute cartoon TV special which remains a holiday staple to this day. Saying the 104-minute live-action film is a little over-the-top and unnecessarily stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey is an understatement. The basic and original components are at least there. The Grinch (Carrey) loathes Christmas and is looking to ruin it for all the Whos in Whoville. Sympathetic towards the plight of the furry green monster is Cindy Lou Who (Momsen). Then everything else in this film seems ill-fitting.
There’s a subplot about the Grinch’s childhood and his school tormentor, played by Jeffrey Tambor in the present-day of the film. It’s an addition to the plot that’s unnecessary because the whole point of Dr. Seuss’ original story is that we’re sympathetic towards the Grinch because he realizes the error of his ways and attempts to correct it. Making him a product of adoption and bullying muddies the waters and potentially sends a conflicting message. It doesn’t help that the film runs with this bullying theme up until the Grinch hatches his plan to ruin Christmas.
The story ruins an otherwise good performance by Carrey. It’s a role meant for the man who’s known for his physical humor and charismatic performances. Without Carrey, the film would have been an absolute travesty, not worthy of ever seeing the light of day. Because of his performance, it almost makes the final product even more distressing to view because of how wasted his performance feels. It’s reminiscent of watching Hank Azaria in THE SMURFS.
Technically speaking, the movie is also solid, bringing the pages of the author to life in a flashy fanciful background, complimenting Carrey’s colorful performance. I assume there are some people who actually adore this adaptation and may even watch it every year like some people watch CHRISTMAS VACATION every year. I’m not in that camp. This movie leaves a really bad taste in my mouth, one that’ll take a while to wash out. As much as I’d like to recommend a stellar Carrey performance, I can’t bring myself to ever recommend anyone watch Howard’s HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 1:85:1) The movie is visually gorgeous, but when it comes to the blu-ray upgrade, it seems a little lacking overall clarity. It seems as if there were no efforts to attempt to legitimately upgrade it.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is fine. No qualms.
Spotlight on Location (7:18): Despite the age of all these features (probably being released originally on DVD years ago), it’s interesting to see how much effort went into creating this film. This feature serves as a primer for the rest of the behind-the-scenes bits.
Deleted Scenes (9:28): There are five deleted and extended scenes altogether. Nothing here worth mentioning.
Outtakes (3:17): The outtakes here are a little tame, but the majority of them highlight Carrey’s behind-the-scenes antics as well as his dedication to the role.
Who School (5:43): This feature talks about creating the Whos of Whoville, This movie, as highlighted in the feature, does a good job at bringing these multiple background characters to life with their own unique flair.
Makeup Application and Design (6:57): Giving credit where credit is due, this feature talks with special effects and make-up folks about their efforts to help ground the Whos and Grinch into reality without making them monsters.
Seussian Set Decoration (5:15): From big to tiny, this feature talks about the structural details of the film. They talk about trying to expand upon the few Dr. Seuss details in the book into a full-fledged town, as well as a complete interior.
Visual Effects (10:50): While the digital effects are definitely dated, they’re not ineffective in terms of their contrast to the real effects being used. Still an interesting feature, even if it’s not Industrial Light and Magic or WETA Workshop talking about their craft.
Music Video: Faith Hill “Where are you Christmas?” (4:13): Self-explanatory feature. I’m not a fan of the song.
Audio Commentary with Director Ron Howard: This is the first time I’ve listened to a commentary by Ron Howard and its underwhelming. There are moments where I wonder if he’s actually watching along with the commentary or offered up various audio bites to be sprinkled in by an editor later on. He offers a few interesting insights, but overall there are lapses of silence and a general lack of enthusiasm from Howard on his film.