Ron Howard, you’ve done it again. Hollywood’s most chameleonic director transforms his style once more to give us a vividly realised world of Whoville and its nearby mountain dweller, The Grinch. Adaptations of Dr Seuss are tricky things as much of the joy of his books is from the rhyme and metre of the verse and not just the worlds and characters contained therein. There can be a tendency to rely too much on narration but “The Grinch” tries hard to strike a balance.
Jim Carrey excels as the titular green-eyed monster and his knowing, rubbery performance does much to lift the film, indeed the scenes without Carrey in them feel a little bit lifeless.
The script does what it can to expand the story to feature length without feeling too padded and by and large does a good job. The Whos themselves are well played and the early emphasis on the material aspects of Christmas underlines the epiphany at the story’s end which ultimately redeems the Grinch. Make up and performance-wise, the realisation of The Grinch himself is spot on but the rest of the film feels ever so slightly off. Whoville, while undeniably colourful and intensely Christmassy, feels too dark and gloomy. The design work is great but the subdued lighting gives the whole city a vaguely sinister atmosphere which, combined with the character make-up comes perilously close to being a candy-coated nightmare fuel rather than a whimsical children’s fable.
Perhaps it’s my heart that needs to grow three sizes larger, but even an energetic central performance from Carrey can’t stop this feeling like a missed opportunity. It’s a near miss, but a miss nonetheless. “The Grinch” is an adequate, but lacklustre, festive treat.