"Gee, Cate, your dad doesn't look anything
Now, I have a history of people misguessing
my age, often thinking that I am older than I really am. But this
got downright insulting! The best part of the experience was going
up to the cafeteria line and, after buying two of those little Dixie
cups of ice cream for 25 cents a piece, the lady at the register
asked me, "So, little boy, what grade are you in?"
Luckily, my experience with "How the Grinch
Stole Christmas" was much better. Sure, it is based on the Dr.
Seuss story of the same name, but I haven't read that book in so
long that I don't remember enough about the original plot to compare
the two...except, of course, the ending, where the Grinch steals all
of Whoville's presents only to give them all back. With that in
mind, director Ron Howard and Jim Carrey (as the Grinch) have the
chance to get creative, since the events that lead up to that ending
have to be pretty entertaining to fill up the 90 minutes of screen
time before this event occurs.
Generally speaking, it works. Carrey, in
makeup so heavy that you cannot recognize him, is excellent, and
portrayed my image of the Grinch to near-perfection. Because of the
cartoonish action and the physics-defying antics of his character,
the fantasy can be stretched to infinity and in most cases, Carrey
throws this movie on his back and director Howard gives him every
funny line in the film. One assumes that Carrey had room to
improvise many of his PG-rated wisecracks, and a good number of them
appeal to audiences of all ages. His character progression from
scrooge to saint is believable (considering a rocket-powered sleigh
is "believable" in this movie) and the narration that Anthony
Hopkins randomly interjects throughout the film lends for some
softer moments during the film.
But, it ain't all good! These softer
moments early on slow the film to molasses, especially around the
part of the movie where we get to see how it is growing up green, as
the Grinch's early years paint the picture of what evil acts are to
come. I know I was about to doze off during this part of the movie,
and from looking around the semi-crowded theater, I was not the only
one. Around the time that a young Whoville resident named Cindy Lou
nominates the adult Grinch for an award and somehow convinces him to
come to town to receive it, the movie picks up steam again, but that
is halfway through, and the moments leading up to this were
sometimes hard to sit through.
And, beyond Carrey, the performances seem a
bit uninspired, and part of that is the obvious lack of depth
displayed amongst the third- and fourth-tier actors employed by the
production. The reason for this is obvious: Carrey ($20 million
salary) plus a beautiful, special effects-laden backdrop equals no
money left over for acting talent! Hopkins probably took a small
check for his voice-over work, and after that, we are talking
Jeffery Tambor in a major role as Whoville's mayor...not exactly a
former Oscar winner! The little girl that plays Cindy Lou is cute,
and in a couple of scenes she has great puppy dog eyes. But, then
she mixes up looking like she is having the time of her life the
first time she goes through the Grinch's trash chute (sort of like
how Batman rides that pole down to the Batcave), then looking
absolutely frightened the first time she encounters the Grinch when
she reaches the end of the chute. Maybe this was intentional, but
it didn't make any sense.
However, the message at the end of the film
is the exact message that I live my life by, in terms of gifts not
making Christmas but family and friends making Christmas. So, I
loved the end and thought it made up for some of the film's
shortcomings because the writers do such a good job of making the
message clear. This is slightly more good than bad, and it will
help remind you what the holidays are all about.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard