Number 35. This edition is for the week of November 20--26, 2000.
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" still conveys message
MOVIE REVIEW by Nolan B. Canova
I read the first review of this in last Friday's Tampa
Tribune. Staff writer Bob Ross gave it a glowing review and 3 out of 4 stars. Then, I watched Roeper and Ebert (you remember, formerly Siskel and Ebert) do a MAJOR hatchet job on it and gave it a dual "thumbs down". I visited Rotten Tomatoes, a
very cool and comprehensive movie review website, and the dozens of reviewers there were roughly evenly divided. I hadn't seen this kind of division since Cable Guy. No matter.....
   Just got back from the local bijou minutes ago and finally have my two cents to add. (This is also why the PCReview is a little late: I wanted to see the Grinch first.)
   I was WAY more pleased with the movie than my esteemed colleagues. Few humans are bigger fans of the 1966 original Chuck Jones cartoon than I am. And few humans feared more that the original cartoon could NOT be done as a live-action, what with the songs, Boris Karloff's narration and all. Or that Jim Carrey would overpower the character with schtick. Well, I'm pleased to say, they were amazingly faithful to the source material than not (the cartoon anyway).
   Mike Smith reminded me a few times that Mrs. Suess (Mrs. Dr. Suess?) had to approve everything before it could be filmed. I'll wait until a few more of you see it before I go into the nitty gritty of what they couldn't shoot!
   Jim Carrey as the Grinch is unbelievable. And this is a guy I struggle not to hate. He's just so full of himself, ya know? But, there's no denying he's talented at this sort of thing. Rick Baker's make-up job is flawless. Every nuance of Carrey's performance shows thru the make-up job. (I won't go into great length on the make-up here because it's been printed dozens of times, but Carrey's make-up was such torture, an ex NAVY seal had to be brought in teach him "torture coping" techniques! You gotta admire that!) The look of the Whos are equally gratifying if a little disturbing for its "rat people" appearance. But, its in keeping with the fantasy aspect in a weird way.
   There has been much criticism about the movie's seeming "depressing" nature and that it's "dark" (shades of Cable Guy again). I don't agree. However, I will say much of it is downright WEIRD. Director Ron Howard apparently wants to show us how the Grinch came to be, but I think they could have left this out. Without revealing too much, basically old Grinchy was an angry outsider from birth (but still related to the Who "species"), just a freak--green and hairy. A childhood "incident" in grade school made him hate Christmas. That's just too weird to humanize this cartoon this way. It's very easy to sympathize with little Cindy Lou-Who, who's portrayed here as doubting Christmas's veracity. Not coincidentally, she's the only one without the "rat people" make-up. (In all fairness to Rick Baker's team, I don't know what else you could've done with Suessian characters except have them look that way.)
   The most gratifying part of the whole experience is you never get too far from the cartoon's original narrative, especially the "storyteller"--played here by Anthony Hopkins, and in the original by Boris Karloff. New lines were written, I'm sure, to pad out the show a bit, but nothing untoward. There was a new song written for the Cindy Lou-Who character. And the Grinch himself sings "You're a mean one, Mr Grinch", while admiring himself in the mirror. All appropriate.
   The only other criticism I have is the character of the Mayor (played by Jeffrey Tambor of the Larry Sanders show) is needlessly obnoxious and combative. This comes very close to spoiling the all-important climax when he gives Cindy major shit in front of the whole village about befriending the Grinch who stole Christmas. Thankfully, this inappropriate distraction is resolved quickly enough for the all-important "Val-Who-Dor-Aze" song--or whatever the hell that is--to be sung in the empty town square.
   Kudos also to the Art Direction Dept. for the staggeringly imaginative-yet-faithful reconstruction of Whoville and Mt. Crumpet. This was a stagebound production, but some outdoor shots were used for some action shots of Crumpet.
   Costumes, cinematography, music-all exemplary. (Note to Tampa residents: during the end credits, I noticed one song credited to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Longtime heavy metal fans will recognize that as Savatage's "surviving members" band. Savatage were Tampa boys who done good.)
   All in all, I recommend viewing "Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Definitely a season high point.
Florida Supreme Court rules: the recount must stand
   Nobody cares anymore. I know I don't. Whoever the hell wins, we lose. Fuck it. I guarantee you, there will be much talk of reforming Florida's election laws, if not the whole country's. They'll talk about election via the internet, like that'll help. That being said, I think it's safe to say we've seen the last of the "butterfly ballot."
A brief refresher course on the history of Thanksgiving
  Readers: believe it or not, the following was contributed by the wife of my dentist! She's also his secretary, and we chat about computers. I'm delighted she took the time to send this, by screen name DC7RN:  
  You may think you know the history of Thanksgiving. But do you really? Way back in 1621, the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock gathered together with the Native Americans, filled up cornucopias, and feasted on turkey and pumpkin, right? True -- although they also had goose, duck, and venison. But that feast was a one-time event. And it wasn't a day of fasting and prayer, which is what thanksgiving meant to the pilgrims.
So when was the first thanksgiving? Before the Massachusetts pilgrims' harvest feast. On Dec. 4, 1619, John Woodlief's ship arrived from England, landing at Virginia's Berkeley Plantation. Thankful for a safe journey, the crew proclaimed that day as a holy day of thanksgiving to be observed annually. Our current version of Thanksgiving combines characteristics of both events. President Roosevelt set the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving's official date in 1941.
T.R.E.E. planting successful
  The Pinellas Trail's volunteer tree planting, announced last issue and in issue #25, was a rousing success with no less than 60 volunteers planting FIVE HUNDRED South Florida Slash Pine trees!
   Headed up by old friend, agricultural enthusiast Will Moriaty, the planting's success was due in large part to the city of Dunedin getting the word out to area schools, who then gave students a credit for their participation. That's the kind of moxie that makes me encouraged about how the system can work.
   Of course, none of these kind of things happen without the foresight, leadership, willpower, and sheer gonads of someone like Will. Please visit his website and learn more about TREE.
All content this page is 2000 by Nolan B. Canova


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