How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Ron Howard, 2000, USA/Germany)

               Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas seems to be one of the most polarizing Christmas films ever. With a 6.2 rating on IMDb as of the writing of this review, the film fares no better on Rotten Tomatoes – audience score: 56%. Critics were also divided on the film, in contrast to the more recent adaptation, which received a more favorable 60% on RT. Nevertheless, the film went onto gross almost $350 million worldwide, becoming the 6th highest-grossing film of 2000. The film arrived arguably at the apex of Jim Carrey’s career, when the comic actor was dominating the box office year-after-year, and demonstrating his dramatic chops with Man on the Moon and The Truman Show.

               Most criticisms of the film center on its perceived ugliness, with the live-action Whos resembling rodents, and the garish set designs. This garishness has grown on me over time, and the Whos as well. I can’t state resolutely that this criticism is without merit, but taken on its own terms, there is something watchable about Howard’s Grinch. The hyper-energized cinematography and editing style has also drawn criticism, but again, this brings a kind of heightened cartoonish quality that works for me.

               Critics have also been harsh on Jim Carrey’s performance, and Carrey plays the Grinch with a furiousness and insanity that is far beyond the cartoon version or the book version. Yes, many of his references will be lost on children viewing the film, but as an adult there is much to appreciate here. The adult approach to some of the material was perceived as a weakness by critics at the time, but it makes the film much more enjoyable and humorous in retrospect. Overall, Howard’s film is a flawed one, but nevertheless entertaining and still can be viewed by younger viewers with enjoyment.  

6/10

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