Sunday, December 23, 2012

Family Movie Night: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Title: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Director: Ron Howard
Original Release: 2000
Choice: Our Girl's
My Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Image via Wikipedia

First, I must clarify that my review is of the feature film released in 2000, not the classic 1966 television special.  Secondly, I must assert that, because of the excellence of the TV special, making a feature film was entirely unnecessary.  Thirdly, I must confess that I really don't like this movie.

"So, dear Squid," I hear you cry, "why the 4-star rating if it's so terrible?  Why not the 2 it more reasonably deserves?"

"Well," I reply sheepishly, "it's complicated.  I'll explain more in a bit."

There are a few genuine positives:
  • Jim Carrey is great as the Grinch, his physical comic genius on full display.  I can't imagine a better choice for the role.
  • The film won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Makeup.  In general, the movie is satisfying visually.

The list of gripes is longer:
  • The original book is 69 pages long.  Does the world truly need a 104-minute movie, beyond obvious marketing potential?
  • Songs from the TV special, including "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome Christmas," are featured and that's fine.  However, the rest of the music is just plain awful.  The songs sung by the further developed character of Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) are painful.
  • The original story is wonderfully simple.  The Whos are good.  The Grinch is bad. Through their purity of spirit, the Whos convert the Grinch.  Merriment for all.  The end.  Do we really need a back story for why the Grinch is so sour?  No.  Do we really need a bullying Whoville mayor (Jeffrey Tambor) to inspire more sympathy for the Grinch?  No.  Do we really need a meddling Cindy Lou to drive the plot and sing terrible songs?  No.

I could go on but I expect you get the point.

"So, why the 4, Squid?"

"Well, I have a daughter, you see.
It's a kids' film so it's not all about me."

Rhyming verse is definitely not my forte so I'll quit while I'm ahead.

I do believe that a truly great children's film is enjoyable for parents, too.  But until we entrust Our Girl with her own Netflix profile, I feel I need to look out for her.  To get a 4 from me, a movie has to hold up to repeated viewing.  For me personally, it doesn't.  But for her, it does.

Multi-generational considerations:
  • If you love the story and are inclined to share it with the children in your life, read them the book and watch the TV special with them.  Skip the movie.


  1. 'Rhyming verse is definitely not my forte so I'll quit while I'm ahead.'

    I think the contention that you were ahead is up for debate.

    (Yours respectfully, etc.)