While the Grinch from the book and TV special seems to prefer to stay in his home up in the mountains and keep to himself, this Grinch seems to like to mess with the Whos. He prank calls them, he goes into town (wearing a mask that seems like it belong in a horror movie) and just messes with them. I suppose this is so he can have interaction with the Whos. Okay, it's totally confusing that the townspeople in Whoville are called Whos, but also that's the surname of the main family. We get our first interaction between the Grinch and Cindy Lou when he's sneaked into the sorting room at the post office and has messed up all the mail. Cindy Lou''s dad has asked her to get something from the sorting room, so when she goes in there, the Grinch is hiding with his dog, Max (also probably the MVP of the movie...bless the real life dog for what he had to put up with and bless the character for what he had to put up with!) However, Cindy Lou encounters him and he scares her and knocks her into the sorting machine where all the Whoville gifts are sorted. He's about to leave, but Max won't let him and he fishes her out of the machine before she can get crushed. She thanks him for saving her life, but he tells her he did it because she was "improperly packaged" and wraps her up in red wrapping paper and a gold bow. When her dad comes in, the Grinch has left by then. Her dad is proud of her because he thinks Cindy has been practicing her wrapping which makes no sense because how can you wrap yourself and put a bow on top if you're already covered...oh, never mind!
Personally, I think the best thing to come out of this movie is the song "Where Are You, Christmas?". The version sung by Faith Hill during the end credits. I love that song. Now this song is sung by Cindy Lou in her room not long after she's met the Grinch for the first time. This is the weakest scene for Taylor Momsen. For one thing, her singing voice (I mean, I assume it's actually her singing) is pretty weak. I know seven-year-olds aren't going to be great singers, but if you're going to cast a part of a young girl who is going to sing a song, then maybe cast somebody with a stronger voice. She's also by herself in this scene and doesn't seem to know what to do, while at least she's acting against Jim Carrey or some other actor in her other scenes. No shade at all to her because she was only seven. I think they should have just taken this scene out. It really didn't add anything and doesn't make sense. Why is she singing "Where are you, Christmas?" when the Grinch hasn't even stolen Christmas at this point? As far as she and I and everyone else is concerned, Christmas hasn't disappeared yet. This would make more sense if she sang it after the Grinch did his thing, but by that time the movie is almost over and you're going to hear the Faith Hill version anyway. You know something I learned that I never knew before while going through the IMDb trivia for this movie that completely floored me? I read that Mariah Carey wrote this song and I was like, What? She wrote "All I Want For Christmas Is You" AND "Where Are You, Christmas?", two songs that get so much much air time during the Christmas season on the radio? How could I not know about this? Wow, she really is the Queen of Christmas songs. Also, why doesn't she sing that song for the movie soundtrack? Look, I love Faith Hill and I think she does a great job with the song, but aren't you going to go for the bigger name? So I did some more research and found more information. So the song Cindy Lou sings is just a little bit different than the Faith Hill power ballad. (You know, kind of like Elton John's version of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" is different than the movie's version). From what I gather, the song Cindy Lou sings is "Christmas, Why Can't I Find You?" and that version was written by James Horner. It sounds like Mariah was a co-writer on the radio version, along with Will Jennings. The song is pretty similar to the one in the movie, but has more lyrics and some of them have been changed. Mariah was supposed to sing it, but couldn't because of some legal thing with her ex-husband at the time. Oh, man, now I want to hear her version! But I really do like the Faith Hill version!
To get to Whoville from his mountaintop home, the Grinch uses a chute system. This makes sense when he's going down, but when he's going UP? How is that possible? I guess they just needed a quick way to get the Grinch (and later, Cindy Lou) up and down the hill. I want to say he visits Whoville three different times.Cindy Lou has been doing some research to try to find out why the Grinch hates Christmas so much. She interviews these two old ladies who adopted him. We find out that Who children are brought to their parents in flying bassinets.We get two adult jokes within the span of sixty seconds when we see a father receive his new baby and tell his wife that their new kid looks a lot like her boss, then we see a bunch of Whos at the annual Christmas party and they're throwing keys in a bowl and I don't think it's because they don't want anyone driving home drunk...the two ladies tell Cindy Lou that Baby Grinch was still outside when the party was over, so they took him home. I guess he was never claimed by a parent. Baby Grinch reminded me of the baby from that '90s TGIF show, Dinosaurs. You know, "Not the mama!" or whatever it was he said. The two ladies (not sure if they were lesbians or sisters who never married and lived together or what their deal was) tell Cindy Lou they raised him like any other child, "with a deep love for Christmas." Well, there's your problem right there. His expectations on Christmas were probably way too high!
She also interviews Martha May and the Mayor (Jeffrey Tambor) who were both in the Grinch's class in grade school. Even though Martha was the girlfriend of Augustus (the kid who would become the Mayor), she has a crush on the Grinch. Mind you, they're all eight, so that's kind of weird. I did laugh when Martha, talking to Cindy Lou, says, "Did I have a crush on the Grinch? Well, of course not" and Cindy Lou replies, "I didn't ask you that." Young Augustus tells young Grinch concerning young Martha: "You don't have a chance with her. You're eight years old and have a beard." I mean, good for him for not mentioning he stands out because he's green, I guess. The class is having a Christmas exchange where they're suppose to give a gift to someone special. The Grinch (does he even have a first name or does he just go by that "The Grinch" moniker?) makes an ornament thingofabob for Martha. He also decides to shave that day and it didn't go so well, so he's wearing a paper bag over his head. His teacher makes his remove it and everyone in the class -including the teacher - laughs at him. Everyone, but Martha. The Grinch has a few pieces of tissues to cover his scabs. It's understandable his fellow classmates are laughing at him because kids suck, but the teacher? Yeah, she sucks the most. This whole event is the catalyst for making the Grinch hate Christmas. He becomes super angry and he smashes the ornament he made and he throws the class Christmas tree out the window and basically becomes a mini Hulk (you know, since he's green and all).
This Christmas in Whoville marks the 1,000th Whobilation where they will nominate someone to be the Holiday Cheermeister at a town Christmas party. To be honest, I wasn't clear if the Whobilation was when they nominated somebody or when they had the party where they announced the Holiday Cheermeister. On their way to hear the nominations, Cindy Lou tells her dad she might do something drastic and she does when the Mayor announces it's time to hear the nominations "for that Who among us who best typifies the qualities of Who-dom and Who-dery, the Whoville Holiday Cheermeister." Cindy Lou is the first one to speak and comes of out nowhere saying, "I nominate the Grinch." It gave me a "I volunteer as tribute" vibe from The Hunger Games. The Mayor is trying to tell Cindy Lou that the Grinch can't be nominated per The Book of Who, but Cindy isn't having any of it. She tells him, "The book says the Cheermeister is the one who deserves a backslap or a toast. And it goes to the soul at Christmas who needs it the most." She believes that would be the Grinch and everyone in attendance claps along in agreement and the Mayor has to go along with the nomination. So I guess only one nomination can be given?
Cindy Lou pays the Grinch a visit and convinces him to come to the celebration where he'll win an award. He's late getting there, but just when they're about to give the award to someone else, he show up claiming he was promised he would get an award and a check, but Cindy denies that last part. He's reunited with his "two old biddies" and it's pretty funny, despite a little cold when he asks them, "Are you two still living?" (I guess it's a legitimate question since they were both pretty old when he was a baby!) After being dressed in a sweater with the words "I [heart] Xmas" on top of a Christmas tree, he is put in the Chair of Cheer and is the judge of a pudding contest, the Fudge Judge, judge of Fruitcake La La La (God, I would throw up having to eat all that food and I think pudding would be the worst!), he leads the Christmas conga and wins the Santa sack race. By the end, he seems to actually be having a good time and the Whos have seemed to accept him. But of course we know we're still waiting for the big scene where he's going to steal Christmas, so something's gotta happen here to ruin everything. It does when the Mayor is about to give the award he was promised. Instead of receiving a plaque or a trophy, the Mayor presents him with "the gift of a Christmas shave" and gives him a razor. This makes everyone (except Cindy Lou and her family and Martha, of course) laugh at him. To make matters worse, the Mayor decides to choose this moment to propose to Martha. He makes this like a game show, telling her if she accepts being his wife, she'll also win a brand new car and she has "twenty second on the clock" to make her decision. Before Martha can give him an answer, the Grinch scrapes the car with his fingernail and tells the Whos the only thing they care about are material possessions and that it all ends up in his garbage anyway. (All the town's garbage ends up near his home).
I think this would be a good time to stop and talk about the Whos and how....weird they look. We know from the book and the animated TV special the Whos have a distinct look; they have that Dr. Seuss character look. The actors in the movie are wearing prosthetic chins or noses to give them that particular look and it just looks weird. I do think they did a good job with giving them crazy hair styles. Like I mentioned before, they wear glasses of eggnog as hair ornaments and later, we will see Betty Lou wearing peppermint candies in her hair like hair rollers. The only people who don't wear prosthetics are the young kids (because, as we learn later, they "grow into their noses") or Martha May, who is supposed to be the Beautiful One. (I guess the Grinch can't have a crush on her if she doesn't look like the other Whos?) Also, in the book and animated special, we know that Whos come in all shapes and sizes. The way they did it in the movie is really creepy and unsettling. Instead of casting little people to play the smaller-size Whos (and maybe they did and I didn't notice), they take regular size people and use that trick photography to make them smaller than the other Whos. I don't know, the end product just looks really weird and creepy. It would be like walking around with people who are the size of Barbie dolls; that's what they looked like.
When he returns to Whoville with Cindy and all the presents he stole, he does apologize for what he did. However, when Martha chooses that moment to break up with the Mayor and confess her love to the Grinch, he pretty much rubs it in the Mayor's face, though I guess he did deserve that. I did laugh when the Grinch joins hands with the rest of the Whos as they're singing and he doesn't know the words, so he's just making them up.
A few other thing before I wrap (huh, is that a Christmas pun?) up: Anthony Hopkins narrates the story. I believe every word he says is taken straight from the book.
While I think most movies that take place during Christmas are quite beautiful, this movie is just really asthetically ugly to look at. Yes, there's a lot of red and greens, but there's also other colors mixed in there and there's something hazy about the screen. It just doesn't look right. Skip this movie and watch the 1966 version instead. Show your kids that version instead; you know they'll like it better. The three words that best describe this movie are, and I quote, "Stink, stank, stunk!" (Yeah, that jab was too easy!)