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How the Grinch Stole Christmas

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Starring: Jim Carrey, Christine Baranski
Director: Ron Howard
Rated: PG
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: November 2000
Genres: Comedy, Kids, Christmas

*Also starring: Molly Shannon, Jeffrey Tambor, Verne Troyer, Bill Irwin, Jim Meskimen, Taylor Momsen

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5.  Jerry Saravia read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

In the most anticipated movie of the holiday season, Jim Carrey recreates Boris Karloff's famous Grinch role in HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Based on the well-known Dr. Seuss story, the Jim Carrey version, directed by Ron Howard (EdTV), is a live-action movie. The 1966 television original, an annual Christmas tradition in the Rhodes household, is an animated film. Even if the remake pales in comparison to the original, it is a cute and funny movie in its own right.

As you probably know, the Grinch is a "bah humbug" kind of guy who tries to keep Christmas from coming to the sweet Whos by stealing all of their presents and decorations. In a tribute to the original show and book, the remake keeps most of the lines but adds in more story in order to triple the length of the original half-hour show. In a flashback to the Grinch's childhood, we finally get some insights into what made him into the quintessential crab.

Anthony Hopkins, as the narrator, is the perfect choice to replace Boris Karloff, whose voice was the best part of the original production. With the exception of his speeding up and slurring a few lines, Hopkins provides a wonderful rendition of the Seuss rhyme.

In order to accurately recreate the Seuss images, production designer Michael Corenblith carefully reviewed the illustrations in all of the Seuss books. With this knowledge he created a visual vocabulary in order to ensure that every tower and every bridge would be as close as possible to what Dr. Seuss would have imagined them. The inventive result is a snow-covered cross between WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Five-time Academy Award winner Rick Baker's special make-up effects turn Carrey into a creature bearing little resemblance to the man inside the suit. Only Carrey's expressive mouth is recognizable.

The story's laughs come from both the gadgets and the dialog. Martha May Whovier (Christine Baranski), for example, is able to outdo her neighbor Betty Lou Who (Molly Shannon) through the aid of a Gatling-style machine gun for shooting Christmas lights onto the outside of her house.

When the Grinch first checks his heart, he declares proudly, "Down a size and a half, and this time I'll keep it off." This is a guy whose daily calendar entries include, "wallow in self-pity" and "solve world hunger -- tell no one." Working against his desire for grumpiness is one little Cindy Lou Who, played sweetly by Taylor Momsen in her major motion picture debut. She sees goodness in the Grinch that others don't. And when he tries to scare her with massive screaming, she tells him, "Maybe you need a time out."

One of the funniest scenes occurs when the toddler Grinch is offered Christmas cookies on a plate made in the image of Santa Claus. Biting off Santa's head rather than eating a cookie, the little Grinch announces, "Santa, bye-bye."

Sometimes, it's the small things that make a difference. The sweet little dog, Max, in this version is a wonderful dog who acts and even looks kind of like the original. I like that.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS runs 1:38. It is rated PG for crude humor and would be acceptable for all ages.

My son Jeffrey, age 11, thought this version was funnier than the original, but not better. He gave it ***, mentioning how much he liked the gadgets. His sole complaint was that only Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch were fully developed characters.

Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes

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