Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor
Dr. Seuss, Jeffrey Price
|This film had everything going for it...a gifted director, top-notch technology, a great cast and source material that is among the most beloved of all-time. What went wrong? This 2000 adaptation of Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" certainly made money, but it stole the soul of Dr. Seuss in the process.
It was rumored that Seuss' widow had long been hesitant to allow productions from his books...here's hoping there are no more. We've had two now (yes, I'm aware of the 1966 version) recently, and both have been simply awful. I truly believe that Dr. Seuss defies adaptation and is best left in print and in the imaginations of all who read the stories. They are among the finest examples of literature, in my opinion, available to adults and children.
Jim Carrey was inspired casting in the role of The Grinch, and he certainly surrendered himself to the role. He's wonderful here given what he had to work with, however, he's mired down in horrid dialogue and inept plotlines that keep him from ever taking full advantage of this character. I'm hoping that his upcoming Lemony Snicket appearance will be a tad closer to what this performance could have been. This was good, but it could have been great.
Taylor Momsen is cute as Cindy Lou Who, but adds little to the role, and the same could be said for much of the cast. They "look" the parts, but do they capture the essence of "Seuss." The answer is "no." Molly Shannon, Bill Irwin, Jeffrey Tambor and Christine Baranski seem like they have a place here but they seem to be coasting a bit on the coattails of Seuss. The exception would be Anthony Hopkins as The Narrator...Hopkins embellishes this role and keeps it constantly interesting.
I loved a lot of what my fellow critic Jacob Hall said about this film, and would say that this film suffered even more so from the same issue that "The Polar Express" experienced. How do you adapt a beloved, short book that is more spirit than it is plot? Clearly, nobody has quite figured it out yet...though, for me, "Polar Express" comes considerably closer than this film.
The production design of this film is remarkable, but it continues to be more style than substance or spirit. So much is added to this film, from dialogue to scenery to subplots to the mind-boggling role increase of Cindy Lou Who...it bogs down the film and violates the essence of Seuss. Even the soundtrack, for me was remarkably obtrusive.
Clearly, this film offered enough visually and in terms of action that it held the interest of children and many ADHD adults. Yet, for those who craved a true Seuss' production I'm afraid this film falls considerably short. Bah! Humbug!
|© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic