Materialism in all forms has bothered me for a long time, since I realised that while money may buy happiness, it can't buy satisfaction. Holidays today are geared towards encouraging materialism for the benefit of the economy. This is a problem because rather than setting aside time to enjoy something for its own sake (say, a celebration of affection like Valentine's Day), there's intangible pollution because of the materialism involved (i.e., the celebration is coupled intangibly to the gift). In other words, giving presents is okay, but making it an institution is not.
Thus, like little Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) in Ron Howard's live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I find the general sentiment at Christmas fairly disturbing. Howard adds a degree of sophistication to Theodore Seuss Geisel's straight-forward and simple tale of the Grinch who dislikes Christmas but comes to love it. The film adds to the 22 minute 1966 cartoon by illustrating the events that led to the Grinch (Jim Carrey) becoming the Scrooge of Whoville, weaving a political/romantic web involving the town's mayor.
Jim Carrey is deliciously amusing and makes the film work (thanks in no small part to Rick Baker's makeup). A long time ago, when he first burst on the scene, I figured he was the best choice to play the Grinch. He doesn't disappoint. Besides his trademark crazy antics, the most amazing thing he does in the film is actually mimic the faces made in the cartoon version.
The movie is clever in its parodies of a couple of films (including Chariots of Fire). Sometimes it gets too sentimental, but overall, it's fairly dark with certain lines that are quite provocative (noting, for example, the relationship between glue and horses) . The set design of Whoville is excellent, again reflecting the spirit of the cartoon but in a darker sense. This film's commercial nature is bit incongruous given its message but that doesn't mean one can't compartmentalise.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is an interesting film, with comedic, sometimes groan-inducing, dialogue and some thought-provoking messages delivered in a compelling manner. Check it out on the big screen before you buy your presents this Christmas.