Even the Grinch's furry phizog can't obscure the ever-mobile features of Jim Carrey who always looks as if invisible strings are pulling his face in different directions at the same time. And, of course, any film starring Carrey has to hang on the star himself. Here Carrey plays an extremely odd character known to generations of Americans due to the popularity of Dr Seuss's 1957 book, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas". Seuss, who also wrote the fantasy "The 5000 Fingers of Dr T" (see the film and enjoy), believed that the animated version of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966) could not be bettered, and indeed the Jim Carrey version is down to the tolerance of his widow.
The Grinch is a hostile, spiteful, malevolent outcast who lives in a snowflake on Mount Crumpit, and his speciality is sneering at the Christmas-loving Whos of Whoville, all of whom have faces which seem to be half-dog, half-rat. He puts nails in the blender and flattens his head with cymbals so as to avoid the sickly sound of Christmas music. His masterstroke is stealing presents from all the homes as a sort of Santa Claus in reverse.
Director Ron Howard has certainly nailed the playfully eccentric other world of Whoville, and created a fair number of wild set-pieces that rely on the weird comic energy of Carrey, whose manic, darting movements are perfect for the Grinch, a restless, driven maverick. Yet the pace sometimes flags because Howard insists on winding the film down so that Carrey can fizz in his many big moments. It's also a shame that some of the other characters, in all their glorious peculiarity, aren't more than just feeds for the admittedly talented star.
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