Review: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

Don’t be surprised if this live-action version of “The Grinch” sweeps a whole lot of the technical award nominations at the Oscars next year. In terms of production value – everything from the make-up, to the FX, the set design, the costumes, etc. are all truly imaginative and brilliant.

Any concerns you had about the look of a two-dimensional Dr. Seuss fantasy world not being able to translate into a live-action movie can be laid to rest right now – Howard truly has made Whoville come alive.

That said the actual film content itself, while not up at the level of the design, is still an engrossing family flick and one of the better films of the season. A lot of reviewers compare this to the original cartoon and base their review on that – having never seen the cartoon I can’t judge the differences, but then again because of that I also have no bias going in – I went in hoping for something good and was not disappointed.

Normally I can’t stand family-oriented movies but seriously this is easily the best one of the genre I’ve seen since “Toy Story 2”. The film is designed specifically for 10-year olds, and while there are moments which adults will find overly sentimental of childish, there’s still stuff in here to appeal to them which’ll probably go over the kiddies heads.

Is it safe for the littlies? Sure, there’s darker stuff going on in most of Disney’s big animated films compared to this. There’s only one scene where the Grinch is chewing on glass bottle fragments which made me worry some kid may want to try impersonate him – everything else though was quite safe. One gag involving the dog produced the biggest laugh of the film from kids – though quite a few parents were shocked.

Performances wise Carrey was back doing his Mask-schtick and consequently like that film only some of the gags worked – others just seemed silly, while a lot (especially in the first part) were simply incomprehensible as he kept saying stuff that just, well was not only hard to hear but also didn’t make sense. Momsen is darn cute as the little girl with a big heart, Anthony Hopkins narration will actually be one of the few times a voice over in movies is well liked, whilst the townsfolk of Whoville do OK too (especially Christine Baranski as a woman who the Grinch had a crush on in school).

As family-safe holiday entertainment goes, it doesn’t get much better than this. As movies in general go, this may be a little too oriented toward the kids for people to really get into. Still, it can match level with some of the better Disney animated and CG-animated films of recent times. A superb cast & crew have lived up to and exceeded the expectations placed on them, good job people.