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To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from director Ron Howard’s version of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Sure, the movie stars Jim Carrey as The Grinch, so it’s going to be funny, but just how faithful would it be to Dr. Seuss? Fortunately, the movie version of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS remains fairly faithful to Dr. Seuss, with only enough embellishments added to pad the running time to motion picture length, and to give Jim Carrey enough room to do his usual rubber faced shtick. As you might expect, Carrey’s Grinch isn’t quite as miserable or frightening as the animated character voiced by Boris Karloff. Carrey’s take on The Grinch is more like the grumpy old man that neighborhood kids usually find scary.

In this cinematic take on the Dr. Seuss story, the grumpy Grinch scares the entire populace of Whoville- except for one little girl. While the rest of the citizens of Whoville are caught up in the Christmas craze, little Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) can’t seem to get into the swim of things. Searching for answers, Cindy Lou becomes intrigued by The Grinch- the only other being in all of Whoville that isn’t enamored with the Christmas holiday. Thinking that The Grinch is a misunderstood creature, Cindy Lou begins digging into his past, where she discovers an embarrassing childhood incident that turned him off of the resents of Whoville and their continuing obsession with Christmas. In an effort to set things right, Cindy Lou tries to reunite The Grinch with the rest of citizens of Whoville at the annual Christmas Eve celebration. However, this leads to another embarrassing incident, which reminds The Grinch of why he hates the residents of Whoville and the Christmas holiday. Seething, The Grinch decides to get even with everyone in Whoville, by stealing every gift, ornament and reminder of their beloved Christmas holiday. The cast of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS also features Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, Clint Howard and Anthony Hopkins as the voice of the narrator.

Universal Studios Home Video has made HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS available in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer is quite nice, bringing out the beauty of the film’s amazing production design. However, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS would appear to have been photographed with soft focus lenses, which I would imagine were employed to disguise much of the digital trickery used in the film. While not razor sharp, the image is always highly attractive and provides a good level of detail. Colors are wonderfully vibrant, especially the grinchy greens and the Christmastime reds. All of the hues are rock solid; being reproduced without noise or bleeding. Blacks are pretty solid and shadow detail is just fine. The dual layer DVD does not display any overt signs of digital compression artifacts.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS is offered on DVD with both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 channel soundtracks. Both tracks sound wonderful and employ an aggressive sound mix that makes the most of the discrete nature of these digital formats. The sound designers use big, bold strokes to play up the comedic and over-the-top nature of the material. Sound effects are launched at the viewer from all sides, but they do come across in a reasonably convincing manner. Dialogue is crisply rendered, with excellent intelligibility. James Horner’s score maintains a wonderful musical quality, despite the bombastics found in the rest of the sound mix. The difference between the Dolby Digital and DTS mixes isn’t that great, with the extra resolution of DTS adding a bit more clarity and depth to that particular track. A French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles. Finally, the DVD includes the Descriptive Video Service for the visually impaired.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s wacky interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a number of nice supplements. Starting things off is a seven-minute Spotlight on Location PR piece that is heavy on fluff and interviews and light on the details. Approximately nine minutes of deleted scenes are provided on the DVD. While interesting, the scenes wouldn’t have added much to the film and were cut to streamline pacing. Who School is a five-minute look at how actors learned to move like "Whos". Makeup Application and Design runs six minutes and it pretty self-explanatory. Clocking in at around five minutes, Seussian Set Design looks at the challenge of bringing the world of Dr. Seuss’ story to life. Visual Effects runs about ten minutes and details some of the digital and practical special effects work employed on the film. The Faith Hill music video for the song Where Are You Christmas is also included on the DVD. Wholiday Recipes lets the kiddies cook up some Whoville style treats. Speaking of the kiddies, the DVD also features a section of interactive games, songs and a read-a-long. A theatrical trailer, production notes and cast & crew biographies/filmographies pretty much close out the video features. HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS is also DVD-ROM enabled, with a number of computer related materials provided.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS is a fun film that is certain to become a holiday favorite for years to come. Universal’s DVD looks and sound great, plus it features some fine extras, making this disc a worthwhile addition to any Christmas collection.

Although I strongly recommend the 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentation of the film on DVD, Universal is also offering a DVD Interactive Play Set that comes with a charming pop-up book for the kids, but features only a full screen version of the movie (boo!). The widescreen version of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS is priced at $26.98 and DVD Interactive Play Set is priced at $39.98.





 The Grinch (Widescreen Edition)

 The Grinch (Interactive Playset & Full-Frame DVD)


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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