The Grinch

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/12/2000

Three out of five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Colourful adaptation of the children’s classic by Dr Seuss, redeemed by a combination of Jim Carrey’s manic performance, the sets and the make-up.

The Grinch is as much a part of Christmas in the States as mince-pies are over here, largely thanks to round-the-clock TV-screenings of the animated cartoon version "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", which Seuss himself had a hand in, and which is currently enjoying a tie-in sell-through video release in this country. The U.S version (a massive hit Stateside) kept the longer title, but it’s been shortened to The Grinch over here, presumably to give it a bit of post-Christmas longevity.

The entire story takes place "inside a snowflake", and Anthony Hopkins provides the narration, meaning that at least we get occasional bursts of Seuss’ original language. Jim Carrey plays the Grinch, a grouchy, scuzzy green-furred creature (think Scrooge), who lives on a mountain above Who-ville and its population of ‘Whos’.

In Seuss’ original, he plots to steal Christmas, purely because he can’t stand the sound of their happy singing year after year, but, this being Hollywood (and considering the 50-page original story needed some padding to stretch it out to feature-length), we get a lot of back-story, where we learn that he is also their garbage-collector, and that he had once lived amongst them, before being humiliated by the mayor and cast out.

Also, the Whos have become obsessed with the materialism of Christmas, a fact that is lamented only by little Cindy-Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), who does her best to befriend the Grinch.

In this version, then, it’s not just the Grinch who learns a ‘Big Moral Lesson’ at the end, but the materialistic Whos, too (a bit rich, perhaps, given Carrey’s $20 million plus payout, not to mention the plethora of Grinch cash-in goodies currently available at a shop near you, but there you go).

If you can stomach the in-your-face sentimentality, the alarmingly awful songs (although the Seuss-penned "You’re a mean one, Mr Grinch", from the cartoon, is maintained) and the sickly-sweet moralising, then there’s a lot to enjoy.

First of all, the film LOOKS fantastic, with every Who-extra caked in special make-up to give them a distinctive pointy-nosed look (the Mayor comments that Cindy-Lou "hasn’t even grown into her NOSE yet!"). Whoville looks wonderful, too, with lots of twisty Seuss-ian architecture and bright colours.

Full marks, though, to Rick Baker's Grinch costume, which completely masks Jim Carrey’s trademark rubber-faced features and yet still allows him plenty of room to give a spectacularly full-blown physical performance, from the hilarious stomping walk, through to his weird growly voice and evilly mischievous grin.

There are a few jokes thrown in for adults (the Whos are briefly glimpsed throwing a 70s-style ‘key party’), but this is ultimately a movie aimed squarely at young children, who will, in all probability, lap this up.

Still, if you can’t find a child to take with you, it remains worth seeing for Carrey’s wonderful performance, the sets and the make-up, and you’re guaranteed several good laughs along the way.

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Content updated: 17/02/2020 16:42

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