How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)


Directed by Ron Howard

Starring Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, and Jeffrey Tambor

Christmas film review by Chris Olson

One of the most bizarre stories of terrorism and redemption, Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (hereafter referred to as The Grinch) is an uncomfortable mix of holiday fun and anarchic comedy, which has left many audiences baffled as to their own feelings about the so-called Christmas film.


For those unfamiliar with the classic children’s story, The Grinch is set in Whoville - a small fantasy town populated by do-gooders with oddly shaped noses, who adore Christmas and go to huge lengths to spread festive cheer. All apart from one citizen, a Scrooge-esque Grinch (Jim Carrey), whose hateful attitude towards Christmas, along with his extraordinary appearance, have made him a complete outcast. Hiding in the hills, the Grinch attempts to avoid any kind of connection with the Whos, and allows himself to become a bitter, cold being determined to brazenly undermine any kind of festive feelings.

With an aesthetic like a child’s confused imagination, oozing with emotive variety and unsettling imagery, there is something wholly weird about Ron Howard’s movie. From the awkward framing and erratic changes of pace, to the schmaltzy kindness of the Whos and the elaborately funny efforts of Carrey, The Grinch is the Christmas cracker of festive films.


The script, which is mostly the poetic verses taken directly from the book, is another fascinating aspect of the piece. What seems like fanciful folly can turn quite sinister when Carrey is delivering a melodramatic piece to the camera about his wicked plans, creating an atmosphere which could certainly be troubling for younger viewers. That being said, kudos must be given for using the script, as it at least offers something wildly different to other Christmas films and is able to beautifully represent the two conflicting themes: innocence and evil.

With Carrey’s performance so drastically different to that of his depiction of Scrooge in Disney’s take on A Christmas Carol (2009), which was a miserly mope who spends the lion's share of the movie being totally haunted by Christmas ghosts, this is more of what we expect from the comedy actor - a physical display of release in a garish costume that takes up every inch of the frame with vivid theatrics.

One of the more divisive Christmas movies, Howard’s film offers a slant on the usual fluffiness which comes with the genre, barely disguising a heck load of naughtiness amidst the candy canes and giant presents. Hyped up on sugar and ready to appear on both Naughty and Nice lists, younger viewers will want to steal a Christmas of their own after watching.


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