You think I didn't approach Ron Howard's calamitous Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas in the right mindset. I needed to watch it with the eyes of a child and not the harsh vision of a critic. Now, let's say you're right, I walked into the theater with a 'tude. So what? This is still a bad film, and anyway, it's the job of a good filmmaker to put me in the right mindset, to dazzle me as he would a child. That's up to him, not me.
Truthfully, I went in expecting the best. That's no less than what I got from Dr. Seuss when he created the classic book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and that's no less than what I got when Chuck Jones animated it for television several decades ago. I love the Grinch, mean one that he is. In its prior forms, Grinch is storytelling as pure perfection; as a Universal picture, it's storytelling as pure poop. To look at the names of its makers is to look on a list of naughtiness most heinous.
Pole position on the list and thus, biggest blame, goes to director Howard. Having spent his childhood with Andy Griffith, you'd have thought Opie would've learned something about simplicity. The essence of Grinch is its lack of context, its unadorned structure. Howard's film is nothing but clutter. From the over-decorated sets to every poorly played gag, Howard fills every cramped shot to the bursting point. It's not everything and the kitchen sink, it's more like everything that can fit in the kitchen sink.
Second is whoever approved the woeful script. It's the year 2000, don't forget, and every bad deed needs a reason. So, now the Grinch was picked on in school and laughed out of Whoville. There's even a girl he sort of has a crush on (Christine Baranski). She digs him, too, but he's been shamed into thinking she'd never like him back. So, we can let Grinchy's nastiness slide because society made him this way and it kind of deserves what it gets.
Third on the naughty list: Jim Carrey. Carrey plays the Grinch like Sean Connery taking Walter Matthau's slot in Grumpy Old Men--all brogue and bluster, no charm. Carrey is frighteningly unfunny. The only thing he did successfully is finally replace The Cable Guy as his worst flick.
The list goes on. And on and on. Grinch is a train of tedium that hopes it can exploit your memories to get you to hop on board. But in the spirit of giving, to prove I did learn something from Seuss, I will bestow the gift of compliments to those deserving.
As always, top marks go to Max the dog. Even though he's subjected to some humiliating ass-munching at the mouth of Jeffrey Tambor, Max maintains his tireless Jiminy Cricket role as the green one's beleaguered conscience. To Max, a tasty Milkbone Oscar! And helping disprove the "no-kids-and-dogs" rule, young Taylor Momsen is adorably sweet-cheeked as Cindy Lou Who. You just want to pinch her every time she smiles. Her presence is a good, chunky residual, as it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that this turd is going to be a hit.
But if you're not part of the breeding herd, then heed my warning. Stick to the book and DVD, and stay home, or the Grinch will have stolen your money, too. And I doubt he'll give it back.