A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
The Grinch who stole Christmas has a reason for growing up to be so bitter. As a child, he was picked on for being green and having hair all over his body and a beard. Show me the child who would not pick on such a classmate and I will show you Baby Jesus. But if "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" had only worked on that angle some more, had drummed up a little more sympathy for the Grinch, maybe we wouldn't want to pick on him too.
This is a movie that devotes enormous resources to the mistaken belief that children and their parents want to see a dank, eerie, weird movie about a sour creature who lives on top of a mountain of garbage, scares children, is mean to his dog, and steals everyone's Christmas presents. Yes, there's a happy ending, and even a saintly little girl who believes the Grinch may not be all bad, but there's not much happiness before the ending, and the little girl is more of a plot device than a character.
The Grinch is played by Jim Carrey, who works as hard as an actor has ever worked in a movie, to small avail. He leaps, he tumbles, he contorts, he sneers, he grimaces, he taunts, he flies through the air and tunnels through the garbage mountain, he gets stuck in chimneys and blown up in explosions, and all the time. . . .
Well, he's not Jim Carrey. After John Travolta and Robin Williams were paid many millions to appear inside unrecognizable makeup in "Battlefield Earth" and "Bicentennial Man," respectively, did it occur to anyone that when audiences go to a movie with a big star, they buy their tickets in the hopes of being able to see that star? Carrey has hidden behind invented faces before, in "The Mask," for example, but his Grinch, with his pig-snout nose and Mr. Hyde hairdo, looks more like a perverse wolfman than the hero of a comedy.