How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000 film)
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 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, Molly Shannon, and introducing Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who.
|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
|Narrated by||Anthony Hopkins|
|Music by||James Horner|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$345.1 million|
Because the film is based on a children's picture book, many additions were made to the storyline 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 Grinch's green skin tone.
Produced by Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was released by Universal Pictures on November 17, 2000, to mixed reviews from critics, mostly criticizing the screenplay and innuendos, while the musical score, Carrey's performance, visual aspects, and production values (particularly Rick Baker's makeup effects) were favorably praised. 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 movies 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, with the exception of the Grinch, a misanthropic, eccentric, and egotistical genius, who hates Christmas as well as the Whos. No one likes the Grinch, due to the vengeful and harmful stunts he usually pulls on them. 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 has a face-to-face encounter with the Grinch at the post office and later discovers his tragic past.
Cindy learns that the Grinch arrived in Whoville as a baby, and was adopted by two sisters. He was a timid child and had a crush on Martha May Whovier, one of the prettiest girls in his school, who also seemed to show empathy towards him. Bully Augustus Maywho, however, was jealous that Martha seemed to like the Grinch more than him and began to pick on the Grinch, including his beard. The Grinch cut his face attempting to shave, and his classmates — except Martha — laughed at him, causing the Grinch to lose his temper and declare that he hates Christmas. He ran away to live at the top of Mount Crumpit, north of Whoville, for the next 53 years.
Touched by this story, Cindy decides to nominate the Grinch to be the town's "Holiday Cheermeister", much to the displeasure of Maywho, who is now the mayor of Whoville. Cindy climbs Mount Crumpit to invite the Grinch to the celebration, and he eventually accepts. As Cheermeister, the Grinch participates in several events and even begins to have some fun, but Maywho 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, 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 goes on a rampage around Whoville, before eventually escaping and 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 are sleeping. He disguises himself as Santa and dresses his dog Max as a reindeer, and 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 then flies around Whoville, 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 Maywho 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 Maywho 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. He then has an epiphany and 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 finds 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 to the police, who accept his apology and refuse Maywho's desire to arrest (and pepper spray) the Grinch. Martha even turns down Maywho's proposal and returns his engagement ring, declaring that her heart belongs to the Grinch. The redeemed Grinch joins in the Whos' celebration feast, carving the roast beast himself.
- Jim Carrey as the Grinch, a misanthropic and devious green 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 Jim Carrey was cast to play the Grinch, Jack Nicholson and Eddie Murphy were briefly considered.
- Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who, a young Who girl who believes that the Christmas spirit in Whoville is lost. In this version, she is six years old, whereas in the book in 1957 and TV special in 1966 by Chuck Jones she was "no more than two".
- 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 then motivated the Grinch to hate Christmas.
- 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.
- Bill Irwin as Lou Lou Who, the cheerful and slightly dim-witted postmaster of Whoville, as well as Cindy's father.
- Molly Shannon as Betty Lou Who, Cindy's mother and a rival to Martha in a house-lighting contest.
- Kelley as Max, the Grinch's pet dog and only companion on Mt. Crumpit. It is unknown how or when the Grinch got him.
- 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 childhood caretakers.
- Rachel Winfree as Rose Who, one of the Grinch's childhood caretakers
- Jeremy Howard as Drew Lou Who, one of the troublesome sons of Lou and Betty, and brothers to Cindy.
- T. J. Thyne as Stu Lou Who, one of the troublesome sons of Lou and Betty, and brothers to 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)
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 Jack 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 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 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 first application of the makeup took up to 8 hours, after which a frustrated Carrey kicked a hole in the wall of his trailer, wanting to quit the film. The production brought in a CIA operative who instructed agents how to endure extreme torture techniques to coach Carrey to remain calm during the process. The process was later refined so that it took only two and a half hours in the morning getting in, and one hour in the evening to get out. Meanwhile, Josh Ryan Evans, who played the 8-year old Grinch, wore the same makeup and bodysuit that Carrey wore, but took five and a half hours, two hours more than Carrey, because his prosthetics were smaller and more intricate. In total, Carrey spent 92 days in the Grinch make-up, 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 51% based on 135 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. 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."
|Academy Awards||Best Makeup||Rick Baker and Gail Rowell-Ryan||Won|
|Best Art Direction||Michael Corenblith and Merideth Boswell||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Rita Ryack||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Musical or Comedy||Jim Carrey||Nominated|
|Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie||Won|
|Favorite Movie Actor||Jim Carrey||Won|
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Villain||Won|
|Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Remake or Sequel||Nominated|
|Worst Screenplay||Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Film||Nominated|
|Best Director||Ron Howard||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Jim Carrey||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Younger Actor||Taylor Momsen||Nominated|
|Best Costume||Rita Ryack, David Page||Nominated|
|Best Music||James Horner||Won|
|Best Make-Up||Rick Baker and Gail Rowell-Ryan||Won|
|Best Special Effects||Nominated|
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