Jim Carrey is up to all his old tricks (and some nifty new ones) in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
, a live-action film of Dr Seuss's holiday classic. Under a thick carpet of green-dyed yak fur and wonderfully expressive Rick Baker makeup, he commands the title role with equal parts madness, mayhem, pathos and improvisational genius, channelling Grinchness through his own screen persona so smoothly that fans of both Carrey and Dr Seuss will be thoroughly satisfied. Adding to the fun is a perfectly pitched back-story sequence (accompanied by Anthony Hopkins's narration) that explains how the Grinch came to hate Christmas, with a heart "two sizes too small". Ron Howard proves a fine choice for the director's chair with a keen balance of comedy, sentiment and light-hearted Seussian whimsy. Production designer Michael Corenblith gloriously realises the wackiness of Whoville architecture, and his rendition of the Grinch's Mt Crumpit lair is a marvel of cartoonish, subterranean grime. Then there's Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), the thoughtful imp who rallies her village to recapture the pure spirit of Christmas and melts the gift-stealing Grinch's cold, cold heart. You've even got a dog (the Grinch's good-natured mongrel, Max) who's been perfectly cast, so what's not to like about this dazzling yuletide movie? The production gets a bit overwhelmed by its own ambition, and the citizens of Whoville (including Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Molly Shannon and Bill Irwin) pale in comparison to Carrey's inspired lunacy, but who cares? If a film can unleash Jim Carrey at his finest, revamp the Grinch story and still pay tribute to the legacy of Dr Seuss, you can bet it qualifies as rousing entertainment. (Ages five and older.) --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
On the DVD: You'd be hard pushed to cram any more special features on to this disc: as well as four deleted scenes, there's over an hour of behind the scenes featurettes. From a documentary about the stunts, the Oscar-winning make-up and how the team visually translated Dr Suess' festive tale to the screen, to a segment on the visual effects and CGI, allowing you to follow the filmmaker's process from beginning to end. And just when you think you have filled up on Grinchy extras there's another menu with the cinema trailer, "Wholiday" recipes, statistics about the film, cast and crew biographies, a trailer for the PlayStation game and the Faith Hill music video "Where are you Christmas". In a bid not to exclude the kids in this DVD bonanza, the Grinch's canine chum takes you through "Max's Playhouse" including interactive games and music, Dress the Grinch, a read-along story and a rhyming game. The candy-cane colours of the Christmas-obsessed town of Whoville shine brightly in anamorphic widescreen; the Dolby 5.1 Soundtrack will fill your house with festive cheer; and the intelligent commentary from Ron Howard give you some great behind the scenes info. --Kristen Bowditch
The Grinch (Jim Carrey) is a grouchy green monster who lives high up on a mountain overlooking the town of Whoville. The Grinch hates happiness, hates merriment, and most of all, hates Christmas. So one year, as the festive season approaches, he decides that enough is enough and draws up plans to steal all the decorations and all the presents from the poor, unsuspecting citizens below. Does this mean the Whos won't be celebrating this year? Not if little Cindy Lou has anything to do with it.