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GRINCH, THE

SYNOPSIS:
In the town of Whoville, all the inhabitants - the Whos - are completely rapt in the spirit of Christmas. Nothing excites them more than the Yuletide celebration. But outside the town, on cold Mt Crumpit lives the one inhabitant who doesn’t like Christmas - a green, hairy disagreeable outcast known as the Grinch (Jim Carrey). As Christmas Eve draws nigh, the Grinch hatches a plan to stop Christmas coming at all; a plan that will affect his old nemesis, the Mayor (Jeffrey Tambor), his old flame Martha Whovier (Christine Baranski) and a little Who girl, Cindy Lou Who (Molly Shannon) who’s trying to find out what the holiday really means.

"Of all his books, Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas remains an enduring favourite. So those coming to this film expecting a reproduction of the book may be disappointed. Ron Howard’s vision of the tale involves a lot more slapstick comedy and rather less Christmas message. As a result, we have plenty of star Jim Carrey being funny (and he is very funny) as the cantankerous Grinch; but the end result certainly isn’t true to the source material. Despite the best efforts of the supporting cast and narrator Anthony Hopkins, Carrey carries off the film with yet another tour de force performance. He preens and pouts and prances, giving the Grinch a manic edge that will appeal to some and turn others off. Absolutely outstanding set design and production values make the film visually exciting and contribute to its dreamlike feel. The story itself has been embellished with a formulaic backstory about the Grinch’s hatred of Christmas; and an unconvincing love story with Christine Baranski’s character. But in the end, when the essence of Dr Seuss’ book finally surfaces, it’s still a touching and important message. Of course, it is more than a little ironic that a big budget Hollywood picture, complete with merchandising and a star who commands $20 million a movie, should be telling us about the true spirit of Christmas! There is some material in The Grinch which is probably unsuitable for younger viewers, but kids over about 8 will have a hoot - as will many adults. Slick, predictable and often contrived, The Grinch is saved by Carrey’s brilliance and the soul of Dr Seuss."
David Edwards

"Why is it now compulsory for expensive children's films to resemble dumbed-down imitations of the Coen brothers? It's not as if Ron Howard has any knack at all for their flamboyant style: his props and sets are dutifully exaggerated and stylised, but an abundance of tilted camera angles doesn't equal cinematic flair, and the mise-en-scene is forced and bombastic rather than exhilaratingly precise. As in the similarly overproduced Mystery Men, the big sight gags fall flat, while the successful humour consists largely of adult-oriented verbal asides. Most of these appear to have been ad-libbed by Jim Carrey, who's surprisingly good as the Grinch. It may even help that he's buried under two tonnes of green rubber: he disappears into the costume, making the smarmy narcissism that defines him as a performer harder to locate. The scenes without Carrey, set in the supposedly idyllic town of Whoville, are horribly dreary and miscalculated: it's typical of the indifferently sarcastic, 'hip' approach that Whoville unintentionally comes off as a conformist hellhole (rather like Pleasantville) filled as it is with rodent-faced, mindlessly chirpy citizens who are easily duped by their corrupt, conniving Mayor. Since Carrey's performances invariably have a shiny non-stick surface (other actors slide right off) it's a good thing all round that the Grinch spends so much time onscreen alone with his dog. The slight plot is padded out with one scene after another of the star hobbling round his mountain hideout, eating broken glass or mumbling about 'staring into the abyss' - talking out of the side of his mouth like Bogart, or Sylvester the cat, or Robin Williams as Popeye (in the film by Robert Altman, a much more imaginative, free-form fantasy about a comic-strip town). Overall, a fairly indigestible Christmas pudding, very typical of modern Hollywood, but not recommended for anyone over eight."
Jake Wilson

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

CLIPS

GRINCH, THE (PG)
(US)

CAST: Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Molly Shannon, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Ryan Evans, Frankie Ray, Jeremy Howard

PRODUCERS: Brian Grazer

DIRECTOR: Ron Howard

SCRIPT: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman (from novel by Dr Seuss)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Donald Peterman

EDITOR: Daniel P. Hanley, Michael J. Hill, Mike Hill

MUSIC: James Horner

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Corenblith

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: United International Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 30, 2000

VIDEO RELEASE: November 21, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video







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