How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

½ (½ star out of 5)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) Directed by Ron Howard

This discourteous, ruinous and horrendous film adaptation of one of the most affable Christmas satires in children’s literature is one of the most inexplicably atrocious productions that the dawn of the 21st century has seen. The original and wonderful story written in 1957 by the great Dr. Seuss is not only one of my favorite fantasy tales, but also in 1966 it was adapted to the animated medium and turned out to be nothing less than one of the greatest Christmas classics of all times, and of course also one of the animated films I most enjoy watching on Christmas Eve. That animated film released in 1966 on television directed by the inimitable Chuck Jones and narrated by a solemn but optimal Boris Karloff is the definitive version we have of the Grinch in the medium. This rubbish and boisterous modern adaptation released in 2000 deserves not to be remembered and deserves objectively to be seen only as a vulgar and stupid product of the cinema of the early millennium, or as a time capsule where all the shame it means as a film is exposed. How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a production that should never have existed, however the greedy Hollywood need to do anything idiotic for the sake of monetary profit makes us have this ignominious movie today.

The infamous ugliness of this film is a sacrilegious act for what Dr. Seuss’ ingenious story was all about; let’s say it is an aesthetic and dramatic malformation of the true thematic core of the unforgettable story. The subtle critical allusions to the commercialism and consumerism that perpetually surrounds the Christmas spirit in Western communities is exposed with a potent didactic and moralistic nature in Dr. Seuss’ writing in verse and rhyme. The ideas and aims of this tale are so generous and scrupulous that to see them distorted in this obscene and brainless film fills me with a very deep anger. It is very likely that this hyper-flawed film has been one of the clearest reasons that have forced me to mold my writing as if I were a reactionary, filmically speaking evidently. And I find it outrageous that to this day there are parents who make their children watch this terrifying film, it seems more like a bad distasteful or perhaps a generational nightmare that will continue to spread this chronic torture film generation after generation.

To begin with this autopsy, and delicately dissect its most outrageous sequences, is to have to first specify that it is a film that targets an audience of children, yet a quick perusal of the script will leave you puzzled with many indecipherable conundrums. One of them is, why does a children’s film have so much lewd humor and a myriad of ridiculous suggestive gestures?

No one will ever be able to answer that kind of question, as it is clearly a deliberate anomaly. The plot starts with the same narrative structure as the animated one, it even seems to try to hybridize the abstract animated nature of the 1966 short film with a pastiche of Burton-esque aesthetics. The result is hellishly bad, execrable and anti-aesthetic. The ideas of the designers of this production are surely not entirely to blame, as they only materialized the incompetence and poverty of mind of the people who had a vision of the Grinch that was utterly wrong and antithetical. We go from an aggressive use of CGI textures to a physical set that could have worked in any other horror film but this one; and in case you thought the disgusting set design wasn’t already monstrous enough, the stupefying visual orchestration is articulated 90% of the time with unusable, mind-numbing, and abusive Dutch angles. The year 2000 was the worst year for oblique angles, not only compulsively used here for no reason, but also accompanied by its contemporary Battlefield Earth (2000), which makes a barbaric and horrendous use of that invasive formality.

An inattentive, insufferable as ever, pantomimic Jim Carrey plays the famously irate Grinch character, in a performance that has not aged well at all, looking worse than when this crime saw the light of day on the big screen. But still, I find it very lazy that one always has to fall into the redundancy of accusing Jim Carrey for this crappy movie; when in fact we should mention more often that much of the blame goes to an unrecognizable Ron Howard. It is another of the biggest mysteries of this production, how did someone like Ron Howard agree to direct this project?

The totality of this systematic destruction of a beautiful tale will stand as the worst of cinema in the 21st century, an embarrassment in our history that we must endure. It’s painfully long, it’s structured with grotesque enthusiasm, and its grimy energy coupled with its adult comic innuendo is unpardonable. There is no justification I can find for the existence of this uncomfortable film. It is the anti-thesis of cinema.

Matteo Bedon

Written by

When I'm not watching and studying films, I'm writing about them. Part-time essayist and full-time film critic.

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