How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000 film)
|How the Grinch Stole Christmas|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ron Howard|
|Produced by||Brian Grazer|
|Screenplay by||Jeffrey Price |
Peter S. Seaman
|Based on||How the Grinch Stole Christmas!|
by Dr. Seuss
|Music by||James Horner|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$345.1 million|
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (also known as Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas and simply The Grinch in the UK) is a 2000 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Ron Howard and written by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman. Based on Dr. Seuss's 1957 book of the same name, it was the first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a full-length feature film. The film is narrated by Anthony Hopkins and stars Jim Carrey in the title role along with Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin and Molly Shannon in supporting roles, as well as introducing Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who.
Because the film is based on a children's picture book, many additions were made to the storyline in order to bring it up to feature-length, including some information about the backstory of the title character and reworking the story's minor character Cindy Lou Who as a main character. Most of the rhymes that were used in the book were also used in the film, though some of the lines were to some degree changed and several new rhymes were put in. The film also borrowed some music and character elements that originated in the 1966 animated television special, such as the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and the Grinch's green skin tone.
Produced by Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was released by Universal Pictures in the United States on November 17, 2000 to mixed reviews from critics, who criticized the screenplay, characters and innuendos but praised James Horner's musical score, the performance from Carrey, and the production values, particularly the makeup. The film grossed over $345 million worldwide, becoming the sixth-highest grossing film of 2000 and was originally the second highest-grossing holiday film of all-time behind Home Alone (1990), until both films were surpassed in 2018 by the third film adaptation of the story. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup as well as getting nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
All the residents of Whoville (Whos) enjoy celebrating Christmas. The Grinch, a grouchy, misanthropic and devious green-furred creature, arrives in Whoville as a baby and was adopted by two elderly sisters. He was a timid child who had a crush on Martha May Whovier, one of the prettiest girls in his school, who seemed to like him back. Bully Augustus May Who, however, was jealous that Martha liked the Grinch more than him and began to mock him for having a beard. Because of this, on the day of the Christmas Party, the Grinch cut his face while attempting to shave, to which his classmates — except Martha — laughed at him and caused the Grinch to lose his temper and declare that he hates Christmas. He fled to the top of Mount Crumpit, north of Whoville, for which he lived there.
53 years later, nobody likes the Grinch due to the harmful stunts he pulls on them. Meanwhile, six-year-old Cindy Lou Who believes that everyone is missing the point about Christmas by focusing too much on the gifts and festivities and too little on the personal relationships. She then has a face-to-face encounter with the Grinch at the post office (while he is playing with the mail by switching things around and throwing jury duty into random mailboxes) and later discovers his tragic past.
Cindy nominates the Grinch to be the town's "Holiday Cheermeister", much to the displeasure of May Who, who is now the mayor of Whoville. Cindy climbs to Mount Crumpit to invite the Grinch to the celebration and he eventually accepts because Martha may be there and he may have a chance to win her over and upset May Who. As Cheermeister, the Grinch participates in several events and begins to have fun, but May Who reminds him of his childhood humiliation by giving him an electric shaver as a present before publicly proposing marriage to Martha and giving her a gaudy engagement ring. Enraged, the Grinch berates the Whos for their materialism by telling them that Christmas is only about gifts that they will end up throwing in the garbage, which is dumped on Mount Crumpit near his home. He destroys the tree and goes on a rampage around Whoville, before going back home to Mt. Crumpit.
Finally fed up with the Whos' Christmas, the Grinch concocts a plan to crush the Whos' Christmas spirit by stealing all of their presents, decorations and food while they're sleeping. He disguises himself as Santa Claus and dresses his dog Max as a reindeer, then descends into Whoville. The first house he enters is Cindy's, and lies to Cindy when she catches him stealing their tree, allowing him to escape. The Grinch continues stealing all of the gifts, decorations and food and stuffing them all in a large sack, before climbing back to the top of Mt. Crumpit to destroy the gifts by pushing the sack off the side. When the Whos wake up on Christmas morning, they are horrified to discover the theft and May Who blames Cindy for letting this happen to Whoville. However, her cheerful father, town postmaster Lou Lou Who, comes to his daughter's defense by explaining to May Who and all of the other Whos that he has finally figured out what Cindy has been trying to tell the whole town — Christmas is mainly about love of family and friends, not just gifts and fancy lights. The Whos agree with Lou and start singing Whoville's Christmas carol.
Before the Grinch can push the stolen gifts off the top of Mount Crumpit, he hears the Whos singing and realizes that he has failed to prevent Christmas, but then has an epiphany and finally realizes the true meaning of Christmas, causing his heart to grow three sizes. The sleigh full of gifts begins to slide over the edge of the cliff along with Cindy, who had come to spend Christmas with him. The Grinch gets the strength to lift the loaded sleigh and carry Cindy to safety, and they ride down the mountain to return the gifts.
The Grinch apologizes for the burglary and surrenders himself to the police, who accept his apology and deny May Who's request to arrest and pepper spray the Grinch. Martha even turns down May Who's proposal and returns his engagement ring to him, declaring that her heart belongs to the Grinch. Afterwards, the redeemed Grinch joins in the Whos' celebration feast and carves the roast beast himself in his cave.
- Jim Carrey as the Grinch, a misanthropic and devious green-furred creature who despises Christmas and the Whos of Whoville. It is revealed in his origin story that he started to hate Christmas after his school classmates mocked him for trying to shave his face. Before Carrey was cast to play the Grinch, Jack Nicholson and Eddie Murphy were briefly considered.
- Kelley as Max, the Grinch's pet dog and only companion on Mt. Crumpit. It is unknown how and when the Grinch got him.
- Frank Welker voices Max.
- Christine Baranski as Martha May Whovier, the Grinch's lifelong crush, the kindest citizen of Whoville and the romantic interest of Mayor May Who. In the end, she ultimately rejects the Mayor and chooses the Grinch.
- Landry Allbright as 8-year-old Martha May Whovier. She shows compassion towards the young Grinch.
- Jeffrey Tambor as Mayor Augustus May Who, Whoville's rude, arrogant and judgmental mayor. He is revealed to be a school bully who picked on the young Grinch over his shaved face, which is what motivated the Grinch to hate Christmas in the first place. He also denounces the Grinch every chance he gets and wants Christmas in Whoville to be Grinch-less.
- Ben Bookbinder as 8-year-old Augustus May Who; he tormented the young Grinch, which motivated the Grinch to hate Christmas.
- Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who, a young Who girl who believes that the Christmas spirit in Whoville is lost. In the film, she is 6 years old whereas in the book in 1957 and the TV special in 1966 she is "no more than 2".
- Bill Irwin as Lou Lou Who, the cheerful and slightly dimwitted postmaster of Whoville, as well as Cindy's father.
- Molly Shannon as Betty Lou Who, Cindy's mother and Martha's rival in a house-lighting contest.
- Clint Howard as Whobris, the mayor's sycophantic aide and servant. He goes along with everything the Mayor says and does.
- Reid Kirchenbauer as 8-year-old Whobris.
- Mindy Sterling as Clarnella Who, one of the Grinch's adoptive mothers in his childhood.
- Rachel Winfree as Rose Who, one of the Grinch's adoptive mothers in his childhood.
- Jeremy Howard as Drew Lou Who, one of the troublesome sons of Lou and Betty and brothers of Cindy.
- T. J. Thyne as Stu Lou Who, one of the troublesome sons of Lou and Betty and brothers of Cindy.
- Jim Meskimen as Officer Wholihan, the chief of police.
- Mary Stein as Miss Rue Who, the Grinch's school teacher who later becomes Cindy's teacher.
- Deep Roy as Post Office Clerk
- Rance Howard as Elderly Timekeeper
- Verne Troyer as Band Member
- Bryce Dallas Howard as Surprised Who
- Ron Howard as Whoville Townperson (uncredited)
- Anthony Hopkins as the Narrator
Before his death in 1991, Dr. Seuss had refused offers to sell the film rights to his books. However, his widow Audrey Geisel, agreed to several merchandising deals, including clothing lines, accessories and CDs. In July 1998, Geisel's agents announced via letter she would auction the film rights of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In order to pitch their ideas to Geisel, the suitors ultimately had to be willing to pay $5 million for the material and hand over 4 percent of the box-office gross, 50 percent of the merchandising revenue and music-related material, and 70 percent of the income from book tie-ins. The letter also stated that "any actor submitted for the Grinch must be of comparable stature to Jack Nicholson, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman." Additionally, it was stipulated that the estate would not consider a director or writer who had not earned at least $1 million on a previous picture.
20th Century Fox pitched its version with director Tom Shadyac and producers Dave Phillips and John Davis in attendance, in which Nicholson was in mind to play the Grinch. Additionally, the Farrelly brothers and John Hughes pitched their own separate versions. Universal Pictures held its pitch presentation with Brian Grazer and Gary Ross in attendance, but Geisel refused such offer. Grazer then enlisted his producing partner Ron Howard to help with the negotiations. At the time, Howard was developing a film adaptation of The Sea-Wolf, and, despite being an avid fan of the animated special, did not express interest in Grinch but Grazer talked Howard into traveling to Geisel's residence for the pitch meeting. While studying the book, Howard became interested in the character Cindy Lou Who and pitched a film in which she would have a larger role as well as a materialistic representation of the Whos and an expanded backstory of the Grinch.
On September 16, 1998, it was announced that Howard would direct and co-produce a live-action adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey attached to star. It was also reported that Universal Pictures, who had acquired the distribution rights, paid $9 million for the film rights for an adaptation of Grinch and Oh, the Places You'll Go! to Geisel. Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman (of both Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Doc Hollywood fame) wrote the final screenplay following eight drafts, but Geisel also had veto power over the script. She objected to several jokes and sexual innuendos in the screenplay, including one about a family who did not have a Christmas tree or presents jokingly called the "Who-steins" and the placement of a stuffed trophy of the Cat in the Hat on the Grinch's wall. Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer (who were also writers on the television series Seinfeld) did an uncredited rewrite of the script.
The film was shot between September 1999 and January 2000. Geisel visited the set in October 1999. Much of the Whoville set was constructed on the backlot of Universal Studios behind the Bates Motel set from Psycho. Rick Baker was hired to design and create the film's prosthetic makeup for Carrey and the rest of the cast. It took a number of tests, and ultimately Carrey admiring a photo of Baker in his first test makeup, for the decision to use Baker's original makeup design. The Grinch suit was covered in yak hair, dyed green and sewed onto a spandex suit. The application of the makeup took up to 2 and a half hours, after which a frustrated Carrey kicked a hole in the wall of his trailer. Carrey's makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji took the most from Carrey's anger. "On set, [Carrey] was really mean to everybody and at the beginning of the production they couldn't finish," Tsuji said. "After two weeks we only could finish three days' worth of shooting schedule, because suddenly he would just disappear and when he came back, everything was ripped apart. We couldn't shoot anything." Tsuji left production until Baker had a discussion with Carrey on how important Tsuji was to the production. Carrey agreed to keep his anger in check and Tsuji returned to his role. Meanwhile, Josh Ryan Evans, who played the 8-year old Grinch, wore the same makeup and bodysuit that Carrey wore. In total, Carrey spent 92 days in the Grinch makeup and became adept at remaining calm while sitting in the make-up chair. Most of the appliances the actors wore were noses that connected to an upper lip along with a few dentures, ears and wigs.
The soundtrack for the album was released on November 7th, 2000. It features a collection of music from popular artists of the time, as well as dialogue segments from the film.
|Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||November 7, 2000|
|1.||"Kids Today" (Dialogue)||0:21|
|2.||"Grinch 2000"||Dr. Seuss and Albert Hague||Busta Rhymes and Jim Carrey||3:34|
|3.||"Green Christmas"||Steven Page and Ed Robertson||Barenaked Ladies||2:35|
|4.||"Christmas of Love"||Rick Chertoff, David Forman and Rob Hyman||Little Isidore and the Inquisitors||2:19|
|5.||"Lonely Christmas Eve"||Folds||Ben Folds||3:19|
|6.||"Grinch Schedule" (Dialogue)||0:40|
|7.||"Better Do It Right"||Greg Camp||Smash Mouth||3:10|
|8.||"Whoville Medley (Perfect Christmas Night/Grinch)"||Paul O'Neill, Robert Kinkel and Jon Oliva||Trans-Siberian Orchestra||4:59|
|10.||"Christmas Is Going to the Dogs"||Mark Oliver Everett||Eels||2:57|
|11.||"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"||Seuss, Hague||Carrey||2:31|
|12.||"Christmas Means More" (Dialogue)||0:49|
|13.||"You Don't Have to Be Alone (On Christmas)"||JC Chasez, Veit Renn and David Nicoll||*NSYNC||4:33|
|14.||"Where Are You, Christmas?"||Horner, Will Jennings and Mariah Carey||Faith Hill||4:07|
|15.||"The Shape of Things to Come"||6:31|
|16.||"Memories of a Green Childhood"||3:28|
|17.||"Christmas, Why Can't I Find You?"||Horner, Jennings||Taylor Momsen||2:09|
|19.||"The Big Heist"||4:01|
|20.||"Does Cindy Lou Really Ruin Christmas?"||4:10|
|21.||"A Change of Heart"||3:44|
|22.||"The Sleigh of Presents"||6:01|
|23.||"He Carves the Roast Beast"||3:10|
The film was released on VHS and DVD on November 20, 2001. A Blu-ray/DVD combo pack was released on October 13, 2009. In December 2001, Variety reported that it was the second biggest selling home video release of 2001, selling 16.9 million copies and earning $296 million in sales revenue. It was also remastered in 4K Ultra HD.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas grossed $260 million domestically and $85.1 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $345.1 million, becoming the sixth highest-grossing film of 2000.
In the United States, The Grinch opened at number-one on its opening day, making $15.6 million, with a weekend gross of $55.0 million, for an average of $17,615 from 3,127 theaters. The film held the record for the highest opening weekend for a Christmas-themed film for 18 years until the 2018 film version of The Grinch passed it with $67.6 million. In its second weekend, the film grossed $52.1 million, dropping only 5.1%, settling a new record for highest-grossing second weekend for any film at the time. The film stayed at the top of the box office for four weekends until it was overtaken by What Women Want in mid-December. The film closed on April 30, 2001, after five months with a final gross of $260,044,825. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 48.1 million tickets in North America.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 50% based on 140 reviews, with an average rating of 5.52/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Jim Carrey shines as the Grinch. Unfortunately, it's not enough to save this movie. You'd be better off watching the TV cartoon." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 46 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars, referring to it as "a dank, eerie, weird movie about a sour creature" and said, "There should be ... a jollier production design and a brighter look overall ... It's just not much fun." Ebert observed that Carrey "works as hard as an actor has ever worked in a movie, to small avail". Nevertheless, he decided that "adults may appreciate Carrey's remarkable performance in an intellectual sort of way and give him points for what was obviously a supreme effort".
Paul Clinton of CNN declared that Carrey "was born to play this role" and noted that "Carrey carries nearly every scene. In fact, if he's not in the scene, there is no scene. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly began his review of the film analyzing the Grinch's "mischievously divided, now-I'm-calm/ now-I'm-a-raving-sarcastic-PSYCH-o! personality" and summed up Carrey's Grinch as "a slobby, self-loathing elitist ruled by the secret fear that he's always being left out of things." Gleiberman expressed surprise at "how affecting Carrey makes the Grinch's ultimate big-hearted turnaround, as Carrey the actor sneaks up on Carrey the wild-man dervish. In whichever mode, he carreys [sic] the movie."
Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "Nobody could play the Grinch better than Jim Carrey, whose rubbery antics and maniacal sense of mischief are so well suited to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Dr. Seuss himself might have turned to Carrey as a model for the classic curmudgeon had the actor been around in 1957." However, he wondered why Carrey "made himself sound like Sean Connery" and warned that the character's intensity may frighten small children. James Berardinelli of ReelViews wrote that Carrey's "off-the-wall performance is reminiscent of what he accomplished in The Mask, except that here he never allows the special effects to upstage him. Carrey's Grinch is a combination of Seuss' creation and Carrey's personality, with a voice that sounds far more like a weird amalgamation of Sean Connery and Jim Backus (Bond meets Magoo!) than it does Karloff." He concluded that Carrey "brings animation to the live action, and, surrounded by glittering, fantastical sets and computer-spun special effects, Carrey enables Ron Howard's version of the classic story to come across as more of a welcome endeavor than a pointless re-tread."
Some reviews were more polarized. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon in a generally negative review of the film, wrote that "Carrey pulls off an admirable impersonation of an animated figure ... It's fine as mimicry goes – but mimicry isn't the best playground for comic genius. Shouldn't we be asking more of a man who's very likely the most gifted comic actor of his generation?" She concluded that in spite of "a few terrific ad-libs ... his jokes come off as nothing more than a desperate effort to inject some offbeat humor into an otherwise numbingly unhip, nonsensical and just plain dull story".
Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote, "Carrey tries out all sorts of intonations, vocal pitches and delivery styles, his tough guy posturing reminding at times of Cagney and his sibilant S's recalling Bogart. His antic gesturing and face-making hit the mark at times, but at other moments seem arbitrary and scattershot. Furthermore, his free-flowing tirades, full of catch-all allusions and references, are pitched for adult appreciation and look destined to sail right over the heads of pre-teens."
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