How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

(In theaters, December 2000) It’s interesting how expectations can make or break a film. A film on the borderline can be either rather good or rather bad depending on how much you were expecting from it. In this case, I was expecting the worst from Ron Howard’s The Grinch, especially with Jim Carrey as the title character. To my surprise, I found myself giggling alarmingly often, and was pleasantly entertained by the result. I had no particular knowledge or attachment to the Seuss book or the original cartoon version, so any liberties taken with the source material don’t particularly concern me. Granted, the film is a mixed bag. Among the bad: The musical interludes, the set design, the “explanation” of the Grinch’s grouchiness and the Who nose makeup design. Among the good, obviously, is Jim Carrey himself: the film reaches its best moments whenever he’s acting his sarcastic, anarchistic, grouchy characters. But, alas, as this is essentially the tale of the imposition of social conformity on the only independent-thinking character of a small group, the ending of the film is predictably awful, as the Grinch is coerced in becoming another one of the boring morons of Whoville. I’d continue with some further social commentary, but you surely get my point. Still, the getting there is often far more fun than expected, with some subversive adult in-jokes thrown in the mix. (Watch for a visual Ice Storm reference that completely destroys Whoville’s wholesome image) And, hey, Christine Baranski gets both some screen-time and tight outfits. If that’s not enough to convince you, well…

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