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Sunday, 16 December 2018

Retro Review: How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Cast: Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon 
Genre: Fantasy Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $345 million

Plot: On the outskirts of Whoville, there lives a Green, revenge-seeking Grinch who plans on ruining the Christmas holiday for all the citizens of the town

'Didn't Nail Seuss Style & Blemished By Uninspiring Direction'

Despite the 2018 remake with Benedict Cumberbatch, which was unwarranted in my eyes, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and a film that came out 18 years prior to and is an adaptation of the Dr Seuss tale, doesn't hold up well after a recent rewatch, as it lacks energy and an interesting story, penned by the writer of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (a terrific movie), which is further marred by the tedious and dreary direction by Ron Howard. Arguably, it is he who rendered this film dry in its execution, it seems he takes a good idea - only to turn it into an almost tedious and uninspiring watch. Much like with many of his efforts.

Set in a fictional town of Whoville, The Grinch is a Scrooge-like character who hates everything and anything to do with Christmas, as well as steal gifts from the town's residents; he is so cynical. He resides in a cave atop mount crumpit. 

Ron Howard has been a director whose efforts have never wowed me, given his pedestrian and bland approach he takes (Backdraft, The Paper, Parenthood to name), whilst abandoning character development and choosing not taking risks-, so it was to my surprise to read that he directed How The Grinch Stole Christmas. With that in mind, and being the wrong person to undertake this film, he took what was a peculiar and offbeat Holiday classic, originally by Dr Seuss, and turned it into a lifeless, at times overly serious and sheer bore-fest that plays it far too straight and seriously, thus forth lacking in invention, entertainment and zaniness to ramp up audience enthusiasm that not even Jim Carrey could make it that memorable. The tone and feel are akin to that of the other 'bomb', The Cat In The Hat with fellow Canadian comic, Mike Myers. As far as the jokes go, there are none, it wasn't funny enough and despite Carrey's schtick that some may not be fond of, it's still plain ordinary. Additionally, given the Seuss' famous rhyme scheme and trademark theme, which has made Dr Seuss's books memorable with families and children alike, this is completely abandoned. Much to the movie's drawback, making it even more of a stretch to endure, and this was something that I didn't like.

Speaking of which, Christine Baranski, who also starred alongside Robin Williams in The Birdcage and Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy in Bowfinger, has a role in this film as well, but she wasn't as effective here in contrast to her previous comedy offerings. 

Had this movie been directed by say, Robert Zemeckis, Terry Gilliam or Tim Burton even, or a director who understands fantasy-based films truly well, I'd probably enjoyed How The Grinch Stole Christmas even more so. 

As mentioned, I liked Jim Carrey in this, but the script and the direction, not forgetting the forgettable musical numbers, let him down and under Ron Howard, it should have been 1hr 30 mins, it's so misguided in its intentions and plus, How The Grinch Stole Christmas also adds up to an utterly hollow and flat experience. It was clear to me that Ron Howard doesn't understand the story he is telling and telling it in a way that is enjoyable and entertaining, which unfortunately this isn't. 

Final Verdict:

For a Dr Seuss-based movie, it is shockingly bland.

By revisiting it 18 years on, it's just isn't as enjoyable as I originally found it to be. 


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