How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000 film)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (also known as Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas) is a 2000 American Christmas comedy film directed by Ron Howard and written by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman based on the 1957 story of the same name by Dr. Seuss. The film was released by Universal Pictures on November 17, 2000. It was the first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a full-length feature film.
|How the Grinch Stole Christmas|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ron Howard|
|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 (such as the Grinch's green skin tone) that originated in the 1966 animated TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. The film was produced by Howard and Brian Grazer, and starring Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, Josh Ryan Evans (in his final theatrical role), narration by Anthony Hopkins and introducing Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who.
The film spent four weeks at #1 in the United States and grossed $260 million in the United States and over $345 million worldwide, becoming the second highest-grossing holiday film of all time, with Home Alone being the first.
All the people in Whoville, called the Whos, enjoy celebrating Christmas with much happiness and joy, except the Grinch, a misanthropic creature who despises Christmas and the Whos and occasionally pulls dangerous and harmful practical jokes on them with vengeance. As a result, no one likes or cares for the Grinch. Meanwhile, six-year-old Cindy Lou believes everyone is missing the point about Christmas by being more concerned about the gifts and festivities. She herself has a face-to-face encounter with the Grinch at the post office, in which he reluctantly saves her life, and she becomes interested in his history. She asks everyone what they know about him and discovers that he has a tragic past.
The Grinch actually arrived in Whoville by mistake when he was a baby, and was adopted by two elderly sisters. Although he showed some sadistic tendencies as a child, he was rather good and timid and not as cruel as he would later become. In school, the Grinch was bullied by Augustus May Who, who grew up to become mayor of Whoville, and his other classmates because of his appearance, with the exception of Martha May Whovier, for whom both the Grinch and May Who had feelings. One Christmas season, the Grinch made a gift for Martha, but attempted to shave his face after May Who made fun of him for having a "beard", cutting himself by accident. When his classmates saw his cut face the next morning, May Who and the others ridiculed him. He lost his temper, trashed the classroom, and fled to live on Mount Crumpit, a mountain north of Whoville.
Cindy Lou, inspired by this story, decides to make the Grinch the main participant of the Whobilation, much to the displeasure of Mayor May Who, who reluctantly agrees after being pressured by the townspeople, who have been warmed by Cindy Lou's generous spirit. When Cindy Lou goes to Mount Crumpit and offers an invitation to the Grinch, he turns her down. He changes his mind, however, due to the promise of an award, the presence of Martha at the celebration, and the chance to upset the Mayor. Just as the Grinch is enjoying himself, May Who gives him an electric shaver as a present, reminding him of his humiliation at school. May Who then asks Martha to marry him, promising her a new car in return. In response, the Grinch berates the Whos, and criticizes Christmas, claiming that the holiday is only about gifts that they will just dispose of later, in the hopes of making them too ashamed to celebrate the holiday. He then goes on to ruin the party by burning the Christmas tree and causing chaos throughout Whoville, but his actions prove to be fruitless as the Whos have a spare tree, which the Grinch sees them erect before he leaves. May Who then accuses Cindy Lou for inviting the Grinch, making her feel ashamed.
The Grinch, knowing that his attack has failed to remove the Whos' Christmas spirit, instead concocts a plan to steal all of their presents while they are sleeping. Creating a Santa suit and sleigh with his own dog Max as a "reindeer", the Grinch travels to Whoville and steals all of the Whos' Christmas gifts. He is almost discovered by Cindy Lou, but lies to her in order to escape. On Christmas morning, the Whos discover the Grinch's scheme, and May Who blames the whole disaster on Cindy Lou. However, her father, Lou Lou Who, the Whoville postmaster, finally stands up to him, and reminds everyone that they still have Christmas spirit, and that the principal meaning of Christmas is to spend it with family and friends. The people agree and begin to sing. Hoping that the change of mood would inspire the Grinch, Cindy Lou goes to Mount Crumpit to find him.
The Grinch intends to push the stolen gifts off the top of the mountain. However, he hears the joyful singing of the Whos and knows he has failed again. Infuriated, the Grinch then has an epiphany about what Christmas is really about: not material gifts, but spending time with loved ones, an insight that profoundly inspires him, and causes his heart to grow to three times its original size. When the sleigh full of stolen gifts begins to go over the edge of the cliff, the Grinch desperately tries to save them to no avail. However, when he realizes that Cindy Lou has come to wish him a merry Christmas and is in danger of falling off the cliff with the sleigh, the Grinch finds enough strength to lift the sleigh, the gifts, and Cindy Lou to safety. The Grinch returns to Whoville with Max, Cindy, and the gifts. He confesses to the burglary, tearfully apologizes for his actions towards the Whos, and surrenders himself to the police as they arrive, but the Whos reconcile with him, much to May Who's dismay. Martha turns down May Who's proposal and decides that she would rather stay with the Grinch instead. The redeemed Grinch, along with Max, starts a new life with the Whos, commemorating the Christmas feast with them in his cave.
- Jim Carrey as The Grinch, a misanthropic 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 humiliated him when he tried to shave his face. Before Jim Carrey was cast to play the Grinch, Jack Nicholson and Eddie Murphy were briefly considered.
- Josh Ryan Evans as an 8-year-old Grinch; his humiliation at school by May Who is what drives him into a hatred of Christmas.
- Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who, a young Who who thinks the true Christmas spirit in Whoville has lost its meaning. (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, judgmental, and greedy 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 to have a Grinch-less Christmas.
- Ben Bookbinder as an 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, a desirable Whoville woman, the Grinch's lifelong crush and the romantic interest of Mayor Who. She ultimately rejects the Mayor and chooses the Grinch.
- Landry Allbright as an 8-year-old Martha May Whovier. She shows compassion towards the young Grinch.
- Bill Irwin as Lou Lou Who, Cindy Lou's loving father and the postman of Whoville.
- Molly Shannon as Betty Lou Who, Cindy Lou's mother and a rival to Martha May in a house-lighting contest.
- Kelley as Max, who is the Grinch's pet dog and only companion on Mt. Crumpit. It is unknown how or when The Grinch got him.
- Frank Welker as the voice of Max
- Clint Howard as Whobris, the mayor's sycophantic aide.
- Reid Kirchenbauer as an 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 & T. J. Thyne as Drew Lou & Stu Lou Who, troublesome sons of Lou and Betty, and brothers to Cindy Lou.
- Jim Meskimen as Officer Wholihan, the chief of police.
- Lacey Kohl and Nadja Pionilla as Christina Whoterberry and Junie, Drew and Stu's girlfriends.
- Mary Stein as Miss Rue Who, the school teacher.
- Verne Troyer as Band Member
- Bryce Dallas Howard as surprised Who.
- 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 hadn't 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 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 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 Audrey 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, some including about one 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. Dr. Seuss' wife, Audrey, visited the set in October 1999. Much of the Whoville set was constructed on the backlot of Universal Studios behind the Bates Motel. During a break in filming, Jim Carrey scared tourists on the Studio Tour by running out of the motel in a dress and brandishing a knife. Despite this, none of the Universal employees and tourists on the tour recognized him. Rick Baker was hired to design and create the film's prosthetic makeup for Jim Carrey and the rest of the cast. It took a number a tests and ultimately Carrey admiring a photo Baker in his first test makeup to allow Baker to create Carrey's makeup based off his original design. Jim Carrey's Grinch suit was covered in yak hair, which was dyed green, and sewed onto a spandex suit. The first application of the makeup took 4 hours, after which a frustrated Carrey kicked a hole in the wall of his trailer, wanting to quit the film. The production brought in 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. In total, Carrey spent 92 days in the Grinch make-up, and became a "Zen Master" while sitting in the make-up chair. The actors who played the Whos were a large task for Baker and his crew that made it one of the largest makeup crews ever assembled. Most of the appliances the actors wore noses that connected to an upper lip along with a few dentures, ears, and wigs.
- "Kids Today" – Jim Carrey and Taylor Momsen *
- "Grinch 2000" – Busta Rhymes and Jim Carrey
- "Green Christmas" – Barenaked Ladies
- "Christmas of Love" – Little Isidore and the Inquisitors
- "Lonely Christmas Eve" – Ben Folds
- "Grinch Schedule" – Jim Carrey *
- "Better Do It Right" – Smash Mouth
- "Whoville Medley" (Perfect Christmas Night/Grinch) – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- "Reindeer" – Jim Carrey *
- "Christmas Is Going to the Dogs" – The Eels
- "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" – Jim Carrey
- "Christmas Means More" – Anthony Hopkins and Jim Carrey *
- "You Don't Have to Be Alone" – *NSYNC
- "Where Are You, Christmas?" – Faith Hill
- "The Shape of Things to Come" – James Horner
- "Memories of a Green Childhood" – James Horner +
- "Christmas, Why Can't I Find You?" – James Horner and Taylor Momsen
- "Stealing Christmas" – Anthony Hopkins, James Horner, Jim Carrey, and Taylor Momsen ~
- "The Big Heist" – James Horner +
- "Does Cindy Lou Really Ruin Christmas?" – James Horner +
- "A Change of Heart" – James Horner +
- "The Sleigh of Presents" – James Horner +
- "He Carves the Roast Beast" – James Horner ^
- * Dialogue
- + Instrumental
- ~ Includes Narration and Dialogue
- ^ Includes "Welcome Christmas"
How the Grinch Stole Christmas grossed $260.0 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 still holds the record for the highest opening weekend for a Christmas-themed film. 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. 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 Grinch 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. The film was released on VHS and DVD on November 20, 2001. The extended version on VHS and DVD is released on October 29, 2002. The network TV version was premiered in November 30, 2003. A Blu-ray/DVD combo pack was released on October 13, 2009.
Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 53%; the 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 score of 46 out of 100 based on 29 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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 middling. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon, in a generally negative review of the film, wrote, "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."
Despite receiving mixed reviews, the film was still able to be nominated for as well as win several awards. It garnered three Academy Award nominations, including Best Costume Design (Rita Ryack) and Best Art Direction (Michael Corenblith and Merideth Boswell), and nominees Rick Baker and Gail Rowell-Ryan won the Academy Award for Best Makeup. At the Golden Globes, Carrey was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, losing the award to George Clooney for O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
It also won the Blimp Awards for Favorite Movie and Favorite Movie Actor at the 2001 Kids' Choice Awards. The film won a Saturn Award for Best Music and a Saturn Award for Best Make-Up. However, it was also nominated for two 2000 Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Screenplay, but lost to Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and Battlefield Earth respectively.
Carrey's performance earned him a Best Villain at 2001 MTV Movie Awards.
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