The Grinch


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Grinch
"The slapstick is not funny, it's violent. A sensitive child will be shocked to tears."

The Grinch is a fairy tale that takes place within a snowflake, based on a book by Dr Seuss. It requires a special imagination to make the cinematic leap - Tim (The Nightmare Before Christmas) Burton's, perhaps.

Ron Howard is a style-free director, conservative, inoffensive and dependable. In this manic story of a self-imposed outcast, who despises the season of good cheer, he allows his $20 million star to dictate the mood of the piece.

Copy picture

There has always been a dark side to Jim Carrey's screen persona, from Ace Ventura to Me, Myself & Irene. As the hairy hermit who lives in a cave on the mountain, he is a disturbing figure, sexually repressed and dangerously insane.

By contrast, the inhabitants of Whoville are Toytown figures, funny-looking and aching for a sing-song. The sentimentality of this nursery community oozes through the veins of the plot, undiluted by wit. The little girl who dares to feel sympathy for the monster in the hills has the sweetness of candy.

The Grinch is scary. Carrey goes through his repertoire of face-pulling and body contortion to an exaggerated degree, due to the layers of makeup he has to wear. Even so, the slapstick is not funny, it's violent. A sensitive child will be shocked to tears.

On a deeper level, if there is one, the story of a misshapen boy who tries to impress the prettiest girl in class and is laughed at, cuts to the quick. He runs away and never comes back, emotionally damaged beyond repair. He becomes not Hannibal Lecter, but a lunatic with green fur.

Most children's stories, with a Beauty And The Beast undertheme, emphasise that to judge someone by their appearance is unkind and wrong. Even the message in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of sympathy for the creature. Not so The Grinch. His hatred for humanity is venom-tipped. When he steals the toys on Christmas Eve, he might just as well be tearing the hearts from the sleeping children.

Love does break through eventually, but it rings false. Carrey showed in The Cable Guy that he can play sickos with uncanny accuracy. No one wants that. It awakens a primitive fear.

Reviewed on: 07 Dec 2001
Share this with others on...
The Grinch packshot
Comedy with Jim Carrey in role of The Grinch, a green furry outcast from mountain village who hates children having fun at Christmas.
Amazon link

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Jeffrey Price, Peter S Seaman, based on the book by Dr Seuss

Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, Taylor Momsen, Clint Howard, Josh Ryan Evans, Mindy Sterling

Year: 2000

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US, Germany


Search database: