How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

I was very conflicted about how to do this weeks’ Thirty Years at the Top.  My initial idea was to write a one sentence article stating that “The Grinch is terrible, it is not worth your time to watch it or even read why it is terrible” but I thought that was the easy way out.  While How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a horrible movie that was created for the sole reason that it would make money, it is a perfect example of where movies went wrong in this last decade.

The actual movie of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is shallow, ugly and created to sell tickets and merchandise in the Christmas season.  Certain things do not need to be made and this movie is a shining example.  The beloved (and rightfully so) cartoon has been popular for generations and is a staple of many families Christmas traditions.  The cartoon is pretty much perfect.  It had animation that fits the story perfectly, a catch song and a great voiceover.  More importantly than all that it was the perfect length at a little over 20 minutes the cartoon tells its story and leaves.  The movie bloats the story to an excruciating 104 minutes long and adds back-stories and new plots that no one really cared about.  I remember having to see the film twice in the first weekend because I went with my girlfriend and then the next day my family wanted to see it for Thanksgiving.  Let me say that I don’t think I have suffered through a longer 2 hours than when I had to suffer through the film again.  I have never been a huge fan of Ron Howard and I think the reason he is so respected is because he is so damn nice (but huge props to him for being a huge supporter of Arrested Development) but this has to be a low point career wise for him.

The dog was one of the only things adapted well from the book/cartoon

This brings me to the point I want to talk about most.  I would say this would be a low career point for him but the money made a TON of money.  It was the biggest film of the year and one of the biggest movie in the careers for most involved.   When you look at it with the question of “why was this movie made?” the only answer that can be surmised is to make money.  Of course the reason that studios greenlight films is because they want to make money. If they didn’t the studio probably wouldn’t be around for long but there should be some creative reasoning behind the film too.  You can have a huge hit that will appeal to the four quadrants and still have artistic reasoning. Everyone knew that Spiderman would be a huge hit when it was made a few years later but there were many directors out there that dreamed of making a Spiderman film for years.  James Cameron tried for years and it was a huge passion project for Sam Raimi.  They did not want to make this film for the sole purpose of grossing hundreds of millions of dollars and helping out the career they genuinely wanted to see Spiderman translated to the big screen.  The creators of The Grinch cannot with a straight face say that they passionately felt like a live action version of this film needed to be made.  Producers saw a huge marketable franchise to make money off of paid Jim Carrey handsomely.

I am not going to be one of those stodgy old critics that yell to the heaven and say there is no creativity in Hollywood anymore that everyone is lazy and the whole system is going down in a blaze of glory.  No I am going to be that stodgy critic that blames the marketing departments for being lazy and killing off quality films.  The poor screenwriters and directors who are pegged as lazy and uncreative still have to do their job.  The Grinch still needed to be written into a form that covers a two hour film and Ron Howard still had to decide how to make the film look.  I did not say that either of these people did a good job (they didn’t) but they still had to put in the effort.  The people that had the easy job were the marketing people.  Their campaign was dropping the name of the Grinch into all ads and relying on nostalgia to get adults and children into the theatre.  They didn’t have to create an interesting marketing strategy to make people take notice and they didn’t have to explain the film in 30 seconds bursts on TV or with a tagline in the newspaper.   They could have easily just had a picture of Jim Carrey as the Grinch and the movie would have made just as much money.  The person that is selling the movie is the actual movie going public because you are bringing in your love for the property.  Many times you hear the phrase “the movie sells itself” and this is what all studios want.

No creativity, no life to this poster, all that mattered was the name.

Remakes, sequels, adaptations, and movies based on toys, cartoons, board games or any other area that people might recognize the name has become the driving force of big movies in the last ten years.  We see fewer movies as new and fresh as an Indiana Jones or a Terminator.  Instead we see the next sequel to Indiana Jones, a prequel to Terminator or possibly a spinoff of one of these series.

The reason that a movie about Battleship is being made and they are rebooting/remaking known franchises is because it is EASY.  Sure these movies sell themselves and studios don’t have to waste money and time on anything but a sure thing but it is also easy for us as moviegoers.  No one likes seeing a movie that they don’t like.  You wasted your time and money on something that you didn’t care for or possibly even despised and people want to avoid that at all costs because time never moves slower than when you are stuck at a theatre watching a movie that isn’t working.  So instead of taking a chance on something totally original like Being John Malcovich, something that can’t be summed up in a few sentences or relying on your past knowledge, the movie going public goes to see the adaptation of a well known book or a reimaging (how many different words do we have for remakes?) of a TV show or cartoon.  This is safe because we have a very good chance of knowing what we are getting.  People who liked the TV show of Charlie’s Angels knows what the movie will be like if you liked the first few American Pie films lets go see the new one.

I am more often than not one of these people. I have two kids now and very little free time.  Although I will probably really love the new independent film that is playing at the art house I don’t know exactly what it is so instead I will go see Fast Five because I KNOW I like cars and explosions (and boy do I).  While the odds of these movies being something great are not good occasionally we get these blockbuster films built on nostalgia or name recognition to be a good film on their own merits.  I love Batman Begins and Dark Knight like most people and I will still say that Transformers was a fun film that brought out my inner eight-year old.  Yet chances are that you will get the same old trash that has been shoved down our throats for over a decade now.

The studio heads, writers and directors might always be the villains in many articles rallying against the “empty calorie” blockbuster films.  While they are an easy target and should shoulder some of the blame, the main villains are us for allowing such generic, committee created films to become runaway successes.  We are the ones who made How the Grinch Stole Christmas gross $260 million in the US alone.  Lets all make a pact to stop this before the in-development How to Expect When You are Expecting based on the non-fiction book for pregnant women gets made.

Posted by Ryan

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  1. All I remember was making out with Michelle Woody. Great movie!

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