Thursday, November 16, 2000 Volume 66, Issue 63



'The Grinch' is mediocre at best

The Grinch

Starring: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen
Rated: PG
Universal Pictures

** 1/2

By Rattaya Nimibutr
Daily Cougar Staff

First published in 1957, Dr. Seuss' classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas has charmed charmed readers young and old.

Now director Ron Howard (who's made such great films as Apollo 13) has made the book into a motion picture starring Jim Carrey.

Unfortunately, Howard's movie doesn't succeed.

And Carrey? While he immortalizes the character of the Grinch, his substantial talent does not save the movie from mediocrity. Overall, The Grinch is a disappointing film.

Many may argue that there isn't really enough in the Seuss book to make a two-hour film, but that isn't the problem at all. Howard has gotten a great story, with extra characters and engaging dialogue. His mistake is in playing with certain aspects in the film so much that it becomes boring.

For those who don't know the story, here's a quick briefing. The story takes place in the town of Whoville during its preparations for Christmas.

The Grinch, who lives with a dog named Max in nearby Mt. Crumpit, hates this holiday.

Ron Batzdorff/ Universal Pictures

Little Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) meets the Grinch (Jim Carrey) in The Grinch, directed by Ron Howard.

So he decides to take the holiday from the people of Whoville by stealing all the town's presents and everything related to Christmas.

Perhaps the only truly attractive thing in the film is the production design. Done beautifully and imaginatively by Michael Corinblith, who's worked with Howard in many films, it brings Whoville to life in a very spectacular manner. The set and the use of colors enhance the imaginative world of Dr. Seuss. The costumes are also innovative and very interesting.

It's hard to get a grip on any part of this film, however; Howard doesn't bring out the story as well as he could have. Though it's obvious what's going to happen, he doesn't utilize his time well in getting there.

Besides the Grinch, the other focus in the film is Little Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), a little girl who tries to understand the Grinch and convince him to embrace the spirit of Christmas.

Also included in the cast are Jeffrey Tambor (TV's "The Larry Sanders Show"), who plays the selfish mayor; Christine Baranski (The Birdcage) as Martha May Whovier, a Martha Stewart-esque woman who has a crush on the Grinch, and Molly Shannon (Superstar) as Little Cindy Lou Who's mother, Betty Lou Who. Anthony Hopkins narrates the film.

Carrey, who portrayed comedian Andy Kaufman in last year's Man on the Moon, once again continuously utilizes his talent for being the funny guy. He portrays the Grinch expertly, another interesting challenge met as Carrey furthers his career.

Momsen, as Little Cindy Lou Who, brings the cuteness to this film, wrapping up all the kiddie aspects in The Grinch. She's much like Drew Barrymore's Gertie in E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, but her role doesn't require much.

The Grinch was a great risk for director Howard -- an attempt to make a classic, well-loved book into a successful motion picture, which inevitably will have to withstand comparisons to the animated version. Unfortunately, he has failed to conjure up a truly entertaining film.

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