003797Reviews & Counting
The Grinch
DVD disk
10.04.2004 By: Professor Steve
The Grinch order
Ron Howard

Jim Carrey
Jeffrey Tambor
Molly Shannon


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Little Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) feels bad for the Grinch (Carrey) and nominates him to be the "Holiday Cheermeister" for Whoville's annual Christmas celebration. The big green one shows up for his award, but gets humiliated by the Who's instead and decides to ruin Christmas by stealing all of their presents.
This movie is mass-market fun with an over-the-top performance by Carrey and some pretty cool special effects. It lacks the warm-hearted nostalgic feeling you get with the Dr. Seuss story and cartoon, but if you can overlook that, you'll be pretty entertained. Surprisingly, this is one of Ron Howard's worst movies, but his flicks are like pizza and sex - even when they're bad they're still pretty good. And I'd venture to say that this movie doesn't really "feel" like a Ron Howard film - it's more like a Jim Carrey film. The classic Seuss story is messed around with a bit, giving the Grinch a back-story as an outcasted Who, Cindy Lou Who has become a Christmas skeptic, and there's even a love triangle between the Grinch, a sexy female Who (Christine Baranski), and the mayor of Whoville (Jeffrey Tambor)! And as for the Grinch himself, even a bunch of makeup and green fur can't smother the Jim Carrey persona. It's literally like watching Jim Carrey play Ace Ventura playing the Grinch...seriously!

The film has a hazy look to it that I haven't seen in a movie since LEGEND. That worked pretty good for me, and I dug all of the Seuss-style sets along with the cool computer-generated mountain ranges. Even though the story is changed around, they did keep most of the things you remember from the cartoon, namely Max, the Grinch's dog, and the final trek up the mountain with the sled full of presents. The best performances in the movie are from the lesser known actors like Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou, Bill Erwin as her dad, and Christine Baranski. When you recognize a personality like Molly Shannon or Clint Howard (Ron's brother who is in every movie he makes, I think) in the Who getup, it's just not as effective. And the highlight of the film is the grade-school Grinch played by Josh Ryan Evans...how freaky looking! If they had done this film right, it might have become a Christmas classic, but they didn't, and it's not.
There are a bunch of extras on the dvd, but sorely missed is an audio commentary by Ron Howard, Jim Carrey, or anyone else for that matter.

The real meat of the dvd can be found in a series of 5 features that cover different areas of the making of the film. There's a Spotlight on Location that gives us most of the press interviews and promotional shots, it's marginally interesting but is the only feature to have most of the actors in it. Who School is an interesting feature that talks with the stunt director about creating the circus-like environment of Whoville with a bunch of Who's running around on wires, riding on bikes, and bumping into each other. In Makeup Application and Design we get to see a silent (!) Jim Carrey sitting in a chair getting his 4 hour Grinch treatment. In Seussian Set Decoration the set designers talk about the "organic" looking sets and how they make everything look so rubbery. Then finally, there's a Visual Effects feature which was my favorite, talking about all the computer-generated imagery and showing us a bunch of mesh-wire shots that are eventually rendered into the final product. Those mountain ranges are so neat!

The deleted scenes are really just extended scenes, showing us some of the less funny Jim Carrey antics that were cut out. There's a scene showcasing Bill Erwin's physical comedy that got cut out as well. I've always liked his schtick ever since seeing him in POPEYE 20 years ago. The final deleted scene features the Grinch looking through his lair's periscope as the Who's wake up and find all of their presents gone. An interesting device that periscope, wish I had one. The outtakes are probably the best part of the dvd, giving us a little bit of everything from dialogue flub-ups to prop failures. They highlight Jim Carrey saying "sorry" over and over for the mistakes he makes. What a nice guy. It's also funny to see these people crack up in costume, especially Carrey in the Grinch outfit. I only wish they had put more in there as it only runs about a minute or two.

The production notes tell us about how Dr. Seuss (Theodore S. Geisel) never wanted a movie to be made of the Grinch, then after he died his wife was hesitant- but eventually the filmmakers persuaded her. Boy, I wonder if she was happy with this movie? Probably not. The obligatory cast and filmmaker filmographies are also here and we get one theatrical trailer. There is also a trailer for the newly restored version of E.T. which is coming out soon. This dvd has a lot of stuff for kids, with a whole separate Max's Playhouse area with sing-alongs of "Your a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and Faith Hill's "Where are you Christmas". You can also watch the music video for her song as well. Then there's a Fun & Games area that has a Dress the Grinch game, a Rhyming Game ala Dr. Seuss, and a read-along story called The Care and Feeding of a Grinch as read by Max the dog. These are all pretty cheesy, but would be fun for a kid. There's even a tutorial on how to use a dvd player for the truly uninitiated youngsters.

The rest of the stuff on the dvd is just filler. There's a By the Numbers page listing a bunch of numerical facts about the film like "Number of tree ornaments used: 8,200". This stuff is actually fun to read once. Then there are three Wholiday Dessert Recipes which don't need to be there. Finally, there are promotions galore for the Grinch video game, Universal studios, and the Grinch website.
The movie is an entertaining take on the Dr. Seuss' story, but unless you need a Jim Carrey fix, you're probably much better off buying the original cartoon on dvd - heck, it even comes with HORTON HEARS A WHO!
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