Christmas is a time for tradition – presents, decorations, carols, and mince pies. But what better tradition to celebrate than the Christmas movie? Join The Hollywood News for the Movie Advent Calendar – a film each day ’til Christmas. For the full Advent Calendar so far, click here.
have been a few films recently that rely almost entirely on the
performance of one performer. A single hander, to use theatrical
parlance. Recently we had BURIED and 127 HOURS (both 2010). But did you
know there is a Christmas movie relying 100% on a single performance?
That movie is THE GRINCH (2000). Of course, it features a large
supporting cast of fine comic actors, but let’s face it, this is a one
Jim Carrey stars as the titular
Grinch and is barely recognisable beneath the fantastic makeup/costume
bestowed upon him, but the voice and movement reveal the Ventura within.
He chews the scenery like a Christmas Roast Beast and it’s probably one
of his funniest ever performances. Director Ron Howard gave him carte
blanche, and he really does go overboard. But then, The Grinch is not an
introspective character piece, possibly played by William H. Macy. You
have to go for broke or go home, and Carrey nails it. Never before has
there been such an example of a movie where you fast forward to the bits
with one person in.
That’s not to say the citizens of
Whoville are less worthy of your time, there are some lovely
performances in there, most notably the great Jeffrey Tambor (HELLBOY,
THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW) as the bullying Mayor Augustus May Who and
Taylor Momsen as the insanely sweet Cindy Lou Who, the little girl who
saw some good in the Grinch. Momsen grew up to star in GOSSIP GIRL and
lead her band THE PRETTY RECKLESS, which is nice. Christine Baranski is
likeable as Martha May Whovier, The Grinch’s lifelong crush and Clint
Howard does what he does as Whobris, the Mayor’s bumbling aid. You may
remember Howard from such movies as AUSTIN POWERS (1997) and APOLLO 13
(1995), but most of all, another Christmas classic called SANTA WITH
MUSCLES (1996) alongside Hulk Hogan. Look through our Christmas Movie
Advent Calendar for more on that festive gem.
we all know the score. The Grinch is a bad tempered misanthrope who
lives in self-imposed exile from the town of Whoville. Because of his
nasty nature, nobody there likes him very much and try to ignore him as
they get ready for Christmas. But Cindy Lou Who believes there is some
good in him, and convinces The Grinch to join them for the festivities.
While he begins to enjoy himself, he is once again humiliated and
regresses to his nasty ways. To teach them a lesson, he decides to steal
all of their Christmas presents and ruin Christmas. But when his deeds
are discovered, the townsfolk begin to sing, far from being upset, they
focus on the true meaning of Christmas, love and friendship. This
revelation causes The Grinch’s heart to swell to three times its
original size, and he realises the error of his ways. He returns the
presents, is forgiven, and everyone becomes bezzy mates.
Apart from Cindy Lou, who is ripped apart by wolves while the end credits role.
Just kidding! They were bears.
It’s a lovely film, cartoon-like in
its imagery, sound, music and overall feel. This is hardly surprising as
it was famously adapted by Chuck Jones originally, and is itself based
on Dr. Seuss’s now legendary Christmas kid’s book. The thing is,
Carrey’s performance overpowers every other aspect of the film. Howard’s
kinetic direction, the fantastic set designs and the supporting
performances are all over shadowed by the central performance. But you
know what? That’s okay. I’m sure Helen Hunt didn’t mind that people only
really wanted to see Tom Hanks when CAST AWAY came out the same year.
If you look at THE GRINCH as a solo comedy vehicle for one of the most
gifted physical comedians since Buster Keaton, then it’s splendid. Just
wind on everything else and you’ll be through it within the hour. It’ll
be an entertaining and swift experience. Also, skip the narration. Boy,
that does nothing to help. Anthony Hopkins phones in the voiceover
duties, never for a moment conveying any seasonal warmth. What we’d like
to hear is the sound of some cozy, uncle-like figure, sat by a
fireplace, telling a festive tale in a warm, inviting voice, stopping
occasionally for a sip of hot cocoa. What we get sounds like Hopkins
droning over loud-speaker as he chooses a club to slice out of the rough
by the 7th hole. It’s apparent that ol’ Dr. Lecter couldn’t
give a toss, but if you fast forward past that, then the movie is still a
swift and entertaining experience.
summary, you should watch THE GRINCH this Christmas, but be sure to do
it on Blu-Ray/DVD or Sky+ it. Don’t worry, you’ll still feel all nice
and Christmassy as you experience The Grinch’s journey from psychotic
hermit to the head of the Christmas dinner table. Jim Carrey is
brilliant and ludicrously funny as the eponymous sour-puss, and
everything else about the film is just lovely. It’s overly sentimental
at the end, but that’s to be expected. Like Ebenezer Scrooge and, er,
Hancock, The Grinch is at his best when he’s a jerk and becomes less
enjoyable when he gets all goody-two-shoes, so if you stop the movie
just as he steals all their stuff, you get a more downbeat and certainly
funnier ending. Try it, in fact stop it after he says ‘The avarice
never ends! “I want golf clubs. I want diamonds. I want a pony so I can
ride it twice, get bored and sell it to make glue.”’ OR watch the film
backwards, skipping back scene by scene, MEMENTO style. You’ll see him
get nastier and nastier. That may not be What Dr. Seuss intended, but he
was a nutter, anyway. Have you ever read his stuff? Out of his tree,
I’m not even sure he was a real doctor.