Not content with painting his face green in The Mask and wearing nothing but green as The Riddler in Batman Forever, Jim Carrey decided to cover himself in green fur for Ron Howard's live-action version of Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
This decision did pay off in that Carrey turned out to be the perfect choice to play the moody Grinch and, whether you like the movie or not, it's hard to deny the rubber-faced actor's energy makes his portrayal of the classic character a lot of fun from start to finish. Who else could have pulled off such a cartoonish role so convincingly? He even aces the old "You're A Mean One, Mr Grinch" tune in one of the movie's best and most memorable sequences. The make-up effects on Carrey as well as on all the actors playing the Whos of Who-ville are impressive and spot-on, bringing Dr Seuss' unique visual style to a live-action setting beautifully.
Unfortunately, while the film boasts tons of Christmas spirit and the great cast approaches the whole thing with gusto, Ron Howard's direction feels surprisingly clumsy, rushed almost. The usually reliable filmmaker doesn't seem to take his time at all when telling this story as the characters remain two-dimensional throughout and the camera appears to be stuck on wide-angle mode and moves around constantly as if Terry Gilliam was conducting a rollercoaster orchestra right next to Howard and the crew got mixed up somehow. It's a highly frustrating film to watch because you know there is a classic, iconic Christmas movie in there somewhere (see the original cartoon), it's just buried under a whole lot of lazy screenwriting, bad jokes, over-the-top cinematography and a lack of genuine artistic style. It doesn't help that the film looks crazy-expensive as well.
Where's Tim Burton when you need him?
Because of the film's unfocused nature, it can sadly aspire to little more than guilty pleasure status. This is the kind of movie you watch pretty much every year during the Christmas season and, although you do enjoy parts of it, you're also always reminded of how flawed it is but you decide to look the other way because it's festive and entertaining enough to work... just about.
Carrey is a delight, Dr Seuss' rhymes are as charming as ever and the Whos look great but there's definitely a true vision missing from this movie which needed to be far quieter, more genuinely interested in its characters not to mention far more appealing and creative visually.
Clunky yet likeable Christmas fare.