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Friday, December 2, 2011



"One man's toxic sludge is another man's potpourri."
-- The Grinch

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a 2000 comedy film directed by Ron Howard that serves as a live-action version of Dr. Seuss's classic Christmas tale. The town of Whoville is jubilantly preparing for their Whobilation celebration on Christmas, spending their time buying as many gifts as they can possibly buy for their friends and family. However, all of the emphasis on the material possessions starts to bother a little girl named Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), who wonders if that's really the true spirit of Christmas. She learns of a mysterious creature called the Grinch (Jim Carrey) who lives on Mount Crumpit just outside Whoville who hates Christmas and the Whos. Cindy doesn't believe anyone should be left alone on Christmas, so she nominates the Grinch to be this year's Holiday Cheermeister, and after some persuasion, he reluctantly agrees to attend the ceremony. However, Mayor Augustus Maywho (Jeffrey Tambor), who had past tiffs with the Grinch, humiliates the Grinch during the ceremony. As payback, the Grinch decides to ruin Christmas for the entirety of Whoville.

I was twelve when this film was released, and at the time, I was in quite a pro-Jim Carrey swing. While I still love him as an actor, I think he's lost a tiny bit of appeal from my younger days. However, when I saw How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I thought it was one of the funniest movies I had ever seen. Eleven years later, I can see that's a rather lofty platform on which to place this film, but it still has quite a bit to like.

Ultimately, this is a film that's really going to pander toward Carrey fans. Director Ron Howard gives Carrey a lot of free reign to run with the Grinch character, and he takes it as far as he possibly can with a PG-rated film. I do admit that his manic presence does go a little too far at times, but there are a couple handfuls of gems in terms of his one-liners. Whether they were ad-libbed or written into the script, I don't really know, but either way, there's plenty of laughs to be had at the Grinch's expense. The rest of the cast fills out rather nicely, but it's tough for any of the other characters to shine when they're being upstaged by Carrey's performance. Momsen plays a convincing, wide-eyed girl looking for the beauty in the Christmas holiday, and compared to her adult co-stars, she goes above and beyond. We get some okay bits from the likes of Tambor, Molly Shannon and Christine Baranski, but as I think I've made clear: this is Carrey's film and his film alone.

However, I think what makes this film so good is the storyline. While the screenplay isn't by far the greatest in the world, the basic story that Dr. Seuss laid down with his original story is simply fantastic. Yes, you could just as easily read the book or watch the original 1966 animated version to get the overall message, but it's good that someone took the time to reinvigorate the story for a more modern audience, especially considering how how materialistic society has become. The basic moral of the story is that Christmas shouldn't revolve around the presents and the material possessions on which we place so much importance; rather, the holiday should be a time of happiness and joy that we spend with our family, friends and loved ones. This film does a great job showing us that's how we should be spending our holidays rather than engaging in rampant over-spending to satisfy our desire for earthly possessions.

At the end of the day, the message should be enough to get you to like this film. As I previously stated, this is going to be a film most loved by fans of Jim Carrey, so if you're not into his brand of comedy, this one might not be for you. However, if you love him - or can at least tolerate him - I think you'll be in for quite a treat with How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Don't expect anything brilliant, lest you be terribly disappointed. Just go in expecting a straight-forward, heart-warming tale, and you'll be doing just fine.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: B+
1.5 Thumbs Up

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