Alright, so I reviewed this movie on here whenever I first started this page, circa 2015. Yet time has passed and I’m a bit different of a person. Has anything changed? Well, I’ve always had a soft spot for Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and it’s one that I always find myself defending. It’s a flawed movie, no doubt, but there are people on this earth who genuinely hate it, and that is something I just cannot endorse.
There is a reason that I find myself coming back to this movie every year, and the reason is simple: Jim Carrey. Revisiting this last night, like I do every time, I am always sort of in awe by his performance in this. Sure, there is perhaps a bit of bias. I love the man. I always have, always will, and it’s a pity that the only movies he seems to show up to these days are… Sonic the Hedgehog (I saw it, and I’ll just say that it wasn’t made for me). The thing about JC is that he gave it his all in the 90’s and, despite being a mega-star at the time, he didn’t really get his credit. Sure, he has a few Golden Globes, but that is not enough. From his comedies like The Mask and Liar Liar to his more serious work like The Truman Show, Man on the Moon, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, when Carrey gives it his all, it’s truly a treat. Yet no true recognition, and sure, I’m probably just a JC stan, but he recently gave some of his best work on Showtime’s Kidding, which was truly special, and again, no dice. No Emmy nomination, nothing. This is why we have get Sonic the Hedgehog: when he delivers something special, I’m the only one to notice.
Laugh all you want, but what he does in The Grinch is a tour de force.
The performance is great on its own. Carrey is hilarious here, from the voice to the way he walks and such. This is a purely Carrey character and performance; one that is of course the Dr. Seuss creation, one that is cartoonish, yet one that he makes singular and his own. There is also an emotional edge that he adds to it in the final act that really proves that when he wants to be, he can really be a phenomenal actor. This movie was a mega hit for him at the box office back in 2000, yet also what kind of blows me away every time I watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas is the fact that he was purely miserable filming this. He compared Rick Baker’s Oscar winning makeup to being buried alive and even had a Navy Seal on the set to teach him breathing techniques. You’d never know it though watching this film because he appears to be having the time of his life. Ditto the experience on Batman Forever, where he looks like he’s having a grand ole time despite the fact that Tommy Lee Jones was being an absolute monster to him. He’s the classiest of acts, and if you couldn’t tell, I’m kind of a fan.
Anyways, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The movie works for me because of the performance, but also because of what a production this is. There is no denying that this movie looks expensive and sure, it looks like a big movie set, but it’s probably the closest to a live action Whoville that you can get. Whatever flaws are in How the Grinch Stole Christmas don’t really bother me perhaps because I’ve seen the movie so many times that they just don’t matter. Sure, the Who’s themselves look kind of strange, but they’re residents of a snowflake, not human beings. There are times when the colors splash off of the screen, but also times when the movie looks a little drab. Howard has made great films before but he’s never really been one for visual pizzazz so maybe that’s where it factors in.
The story of the movie we probably know, not just from Seuss’ great source material but also from the animated special with Boris Karloff. They even decided to make another Grinch movie back in 2018, and seeing as this 2000 rendition exists, you can imagine how pointless that movie was- not awful, but unremarkable in just about every way. Anyways, the film of course follows our title character (Carrey), an angry, green, hairy creature who lives at the top of Mt. Whoville (not sure if that’s the name, but it’s whatever). The Grinch hates the Who’s, he hates Christmas, he hates joy and he occasionally ventures down to Whoville to start trouble. The Who’s aren’t fond of him either.
We know how the story goes: out of spite, the Grinch decides to steal all of their Christmas presents. What this film does though is add a bit of explanation as to why. The reason being childhood trauma, and honestly, these flashbacks are pretty dark for a family film, yet watching it last night I won’t deny that it isn’t affective. There is also added depth to Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsem), who sees the Grinch as a troubled soul and tries to get to the bottom of his misery.
So again, this is a movie people either dig, or they don’t. I dig it. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s light and funny. Carrey carries the film though. He’s not alone necessarily- I like the performance by Christine Baranski as a woman who is madly in love with The Grinch. Is this necessary? Eh, maybe not, but Baranski is always one to give it her all. This is Carrey’s show though. Everything about what he does in this performance and what touches are added to this character (his relationship with his dog Max, the food he eats, the fact that he leaves voicemails for himself and plans with… himself) are just funny. The flaws in How the Grinch Stole Christmas are visible, but dammit, I’m a sucker for it.