Why the Hate: The Grinch
Not every holiday movie is a winner. For every good Christmas story, there’s another that tries to do the same but falls short of being a classic. This is where Ron Howard’s The Grinch comes in. A 2000 live action adaptation that was not only big budgeted but fell victim to the same trap 1994’s The Flintstones fell into in my opinion. It was over-hyped and many flocked to see what was done. At the time, many were curious to see what they did to the new green Seuss character we all know and love. For a while it was the talk of the town and became a run away hit on opening day.
I recall a story of seeing it on opening day with my family. We were going to see it Saturday, but changed our minds at the last-minute. We got there, tickets were sold out and had no choice but to reserve a spot for the next showing. As we waited, we went home and there was a news report about how massive and successful Grinch was doing. I was more curious than ever. Millions of people gathering to see one movie and on the same day as Rugrats in Pair was playing. So we go back to the theater, sit down, see the movie, and I enjoyed it. Sure there were one or two things I felt was not needed, but I still felt it was a fair adaptation. But when I read the reviews, I was puzzled as to why it got a lot of hate and negative feedback. Keep in mind, as a kid, you have a different perspective on things. And as I got older and learned how bigger the negative reception was among viewers today, it was well understood this would be a hard one to coupe with.
So to begin, things are really changed and most notable are the Whos. The facial design is rather odd as they have short noses and have this goofy cartoony look. Although, the personality is rather different. Instead, they are more human as opposed to a group of creatures that celebrate the holiday for what it is and only appreciate the commercialism the season gives off. Maybe the idea was to make the Whos more like normal people so we could connect with them, but it comes off as being a bit mature for a family film. The idea is not bad, but feels more fitting for a different film.
The Grinch himself is rather interesting. Interersting as the look is there, but the personality is rather over the top. Jim Carrey was an odd choice for the part, but he’s not too bad. You get a good chuckle out of him once in while, but most is hit and miss. While I don’t hate Jim and appreciate the movies he’s done, I feel he can be a dangerous ball of energy that doesn’t know when to stop his antics or limit himself. While there were times he did get out of control on some scenes, he was mostly fine with a few annoying mugs and degrading scenes of failing to scare off Cindy Lou Who.
And the plot…well, it follows the book and cartoon near the end. Instead of showing the big heist and making the center of the flick, we get a back story to how the Grinch hated Christmas which is strange and somewhat unneeded. We know why the Grinch hates it. He doesn’t appreciate the season for what it is and is heavily negative thinking it’s about what annoys him. The scenes where he was a small kid and going to school just felt somewhat dragging. Having a back story is ok, unless its done right and here it’s rather questionable.
On the plus note, the sets of Whoville are great to look at but maybe it would be better appreciated if there was more color to them. At times, they do feel somewhat diluted and not very cheery. Maybe its how unrestored the original master print is, but that is just a possible theory as the very poor Blu Ray transfer is some proof. Everytime I bring up this movie in a conversation someone says they liked it and some say they hate it for going against the original source material. Personally, I’m more in between. I can understand how it goes overboard on the level of maturity, but compared to another live-action Seuss adaptation that came out three years after, Grinch is not too bad and at least they tried to do something. There were a few chuckles and lines from Jim I still enjoy hearing and despite the flaws in the first two acts, the last one slighty redeems it in some spots. However, not by a lot.
I keep going in with an open mind and normally after each viewing keep questioning the purpose of certain Jim Carrey gags or debating if my opinion has changed. For now, its at guilty pleasure and that’s where I think it will stay. Again, I don’t think its a great movie or even a fair adaptation but there is some decent moments that show some effort like scenes of the Grinch feeling bored about the lair or his interactions with Max. But the negatives are often more dominant and make this less good enough to recommend. While I’m a big fan of the Chuck Jones animated special and do recommend that over Ron’s attempt, I still have heart for this version….even if its only 3 out of 5 sizes small.