HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (Blu-ray Edition)
Universal Studios | 2000 | 105 mins | Rated PG | Oct 13, 2009
Written by David Hillyer
October 14, 2009
I'm not a huge fan of “remakes” or “reimaginations”. I like the classics to be left alone so I can remember them for what they were. With the exception of Battlestar Galactica and maybe the new Star Trek movie, I've never seen a remake go well. Most of the time the remakes are made because the technology is so much better now that 'certainly we could do it better than they did 30 years ago'. Once again proving that just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should.
But Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a bit different. It was a children's book then a classic holiday cartoon. So you start with some big name Hollywood producers (Brian Grazer and Ron Howard), add a gifted actor and comedian (Jim Carrey), with a stellar cast of bit players (Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Molly Shannon, Bill Irwin and Anthony Hopkins)… and oh yeah, Ron Howard's brother (again)... and you have the makings of a new classic.
Narrated by Anthony Hopkins, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a loose adaptation of the classic Seuss tale. The Who's of Whoville are getting ready for Christmas. Shopping, decorating, and generally trying to outwho everyone else. The only one Who who seems to question the purpose in it all is a little girl named Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen). But up on the mountain lives a green creature who hates Christmas. He decides to pay a visit to Whoville and wreak havoc on the festivities. Cindy Lou Who quickly comes to believe that the Grinch isn't mean, just misunderstood. Let the Christmas mayhem begin!
I had some serious doubts about how Whoville and the Grinch would translate into a live action movie but Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment production company pulled off this film with amazing detail and were true to the spirit of the original story. Jim Carrey once again delivers the necessary over-the-top performance that only he could do. Every character in the film is cast perfectly. It is amazing to see all the Whoville city sets look so lifelike yet so cartoonish just like in the Seuss books.
The production crew responsible for How the Grinch Stole Christmas did an amazing job bringing this classic story to life. From character makeup to cars to buildings, the designs are perfect. It's actually fun to watch this film over again just to pick out little details in the buildings and clothes now even clearer with this 1080p Blu-ray presentation. The video quality is of course the best this film as ever looked for home video. However it's not as picture perfect as some would hope. The VC-1 encoded disc hovers between 11 and 20 Mbps on the BD-25 disc. While it certainly looks and sounds the best ever, the detail level is not quite up to par with other current releases. At times with 100 people in makeup, the challenge of making this film was immense. The team responsible for this certainly deserves the awards they received.
The sound of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is equally impressive. Featuring English 5.1 DTS-HD surround sound, the sound draws you into the movie with active surround and very localized effects in the individual speakers. Sound is also available in Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS, and DVS (Descriptive Video Service which provides narrated scenes descriptions for people who are visually impaired). Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.
In what seems to be a trend, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a combo pack with both Blu-Ray and regular old DVD discs included. I suppose this is a good thing in that it cuts down on the number of SKU's needed for retail stores and it also gets Blu-ray sales up and into the homes of consumers. Disc extras are many but are identical in content and resolution to the original DVD. Its unfortunate that the movie itself is the only high definition content on the entire Blu-ray disc. Bonus material includes:
Ron Howard provides director’s commentary. He does his usual great job providing production background and even some historical information. Mr. Howard always gives so much more than the usual Hollywood backslapping. He once again provides fascinating insights about the actors (some coming from Howards time on Happy Days), the production choices of colors and even how they developed beyond the original story. This is one of the few commentaries I've heard that was worth the time spent listening.
- Spotlight on Location (7:16, Standard Definition) is a studio promo piece that gives a sneak peak into the production of the film.
- Deleted Scenes (9:26, Standard Definition) is a collection of extended and deleted scenes. The majority of them are the Grinch wreaking havoc. There are also a few that gives a little additional backstory but nothing that would add to the movie.
- Outtakes (3:17, Standard Definition) is a short collection of bloopers. Most of them are of course Jim Carrey adlibs and mistakes.
- Who School (5:43, Standard Definition) goes into the development of the Who's. Interviews with the stunt people, actors and extras.
- Makeup Application and Design (6:57, Standard Definition) of course goes into a lot more detail of the makeup and character design.
- Seussian Set Decoration (5:16, Standard Definition) interviews the set director and others involved with the amazing sets.
- Visual Effects (10:50, Standard Definition) interviews the visual effects people who handled translating Dr. Seuss' books into live action. They did an amazing job.
- Music Video: Faith Hill “Where Are You Christmas?” (4:13, Standard Definition) I'm not really sure what the purpose of this video was... it's just Faith Hill singing the song that little Cyndi Lou Who sang in the movie. It really takes away from the sweetness of the song in context of the movie.
- Theatrical Trailer (0:56, Standard Definition) is the usual movie trailer we saw in theaters.
BD-Live content is nothing specific to Grinch, but includes a lot of previews of current BD movies such as Coraline, The Tale of Despereaux and others. The disc also supports the D-BOX Motion Code technology for those of you fortunate enough to have the equipment.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one of those rare films that will be watched for many Christmases to come. While the movie is as good as it has ever looked for home viewers, the bonus content is all in poorly transferred standard definition. The movie is probably not for very young children due to the, at times, intense story and the usual Jim Carrey bits of crude humor. But most everyone else will throughly enjoy this “live-action cartoon”.