For Fans Only
2.5 stars
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Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3 Stars
HD Video Quality
2 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0.5 Stars
Bottom Line
For Fans Only

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Street Date:
October 13th, 2009
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
October 20th, 2009
Movie Release Year:
Universal Studios
104 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

A lot of people poo-poo Ron Howard's 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' as desecrating a classic. No it isn't as memorable as the original Dr. Seuss 'Grinch,' but it doesn't need to be. All a Christmas movie needs to be is rewatchable and family friendly. When Christmas time rolls around all the Christmas movies come out. It really doesn't matter the quality of the movie (unless we're talking about 'Surviving Christmas'), they all get watched. The live action 'Grinch' starring Jim Carry is every bit as rewatchable and family friendly as any other Christmas movie out there.

Ron Howard has taken the 'Grinch' story and fleshed it out a bit. He gave the Grinch a believable backstory about how he came to be in Whoville, and how the other kids made fun of him because he had facial hair at a young age. As one who has had the ability to grow copious amounts of facial hair since the early junior high days, I feel his pain.

Whoville is full of loving Whos who live for the Christmas season. The Whobalation is the biggest event in Whoville. Everyone gathers for a giant Christmas party. Little Cindy Loo Who feels bad for the Grinch who's stuck living in Mt. Crumpet. So, in the spirit of Christmas, Cindy Lou Whoinvites the Grinch to the party and even nominates him for the role of Cheermeister.

Jim Carrey, as the Grinch, is…well…Jim Carrey. That's fine though, because he does what Jim Carrey does best, outlandish voices, strange facial contortions, and creating a sense of mayhem. He's perfect for the part, and makes the role his own. Sure, he's not the original Grinch, but he doesn't need to be. That's the point of remaking something, taking the original idea and building on it.

Howard's makeup and set decoration are phenomenal. Carrey is virtually unrecognizable in his Grinch suit until you see him contort his face in a way that only he can do. The Whos and Whoville are perfect Seussian adaptations. It's a wondrous world that's been created and will be enjoyed by children and adults for years to come.

I don't understand why some people get so bent out of shape about this film. Christmas movies exist in a different universe, and should be judged accordingly. Does the movie demonstrate the spirit of Christmas? Yes. Can it be watched again and again every holiday season? Yes. Can it be watched as a family? Yes. Does it provide an overall fun and light-hearted experience? Yes.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

This VC-1 transfer of 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' is a dismal attempt. It's drab, colorless, and feels like you're watching something that was filmed with a gray filter on the camera. Contrast is terrible! Screwing up the color on this release is unforgivable, seeing that it's one of the most colorful films out there. Errant noise from the original print persists throughout the film. Delineation is ugly too, but when everything has a shade of gray applied to it, what do you expect? There's not much right about this transfer, other than the detail has been ramped up from the DVD release. This is a sickening, drab looking Blu-ray that will disappoint HD enthusiasts and pretty much everyone else.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track for the film is put together a bit better than the video transfer, but in the end it still comes across as underwhelming. Ambient noise is the biggest problem here, with the rear speakers being more silent than not. The sub woofer does add some bass into the mix, but it's infrequent and at times a little soft. Dialogue is nice though, giving a crisp and accurate presentation of the voices. I did, however, notice just a couple misplaced directionality issues with the timing of voices that were off camera. The soundtrack of the film is about the only source of frequent ambient sound offered here. While it's not as bad as the tragedy that is the video presentation, this soundtrack still lacks the punch that it needs to make it memorable.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

The film comes with a DVD copy of the film too. So disappointing (and cheap) that Universal didn't spring for a double disc case and instead throws the DVD in the case in a paper envelope. A trailer for the film is also included.

  • Audio Commentary - I'm sorry, but unless narrating 'Arrested Development' Ron Howard is a bore. This is the same commentary that was present on the DVD version. He discusses the general information about how the project came to be, some behind-the-scene information, and what it was like working with Jim Carrey.
  • Seussian Set Decoration (SD, 5 min) - The set decoration in this film is one of its strengths, and this is all about how Howard and his crew were able to put together a city that is completely true to Dr. Seuss's original artwork.
  • Makeup Application and Design (SD, 7 min) - As you have probably gathered, this is all about the makeup used on the set. Jim Carrey talks about becoming a "Zen master" in order to get through the hours of makeup he had to go through every day.
  • Visual Effects (SD, 11 min) - A short look at some of the visual and special effects used in the film.
  • Who School (SD, 6 min) - Specifically about the Whos that inhabit Whoville, this short featurette covers some of the design and personalities of the Whos.
  • Spotlight on Location (SD, 7 min) - Just some EPK fluff here with Carrey promoting the film and name dropping Ron Howard.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 9 min) - Just a few extended scenes that didn't make it into the film. It's easy to see why these horribly paced scenes didn't make the cut.
  • Outtakes (SD, 3 min) - Jim Carrey's acting out! What's new? This is just some funny flubs and some laughter from the actors, standard outtake material.
  • Music Video (SD, 4 min) - Faith Hill treats us to a music video of her song "Where Are You Christmas?"

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

My Scenes Bookmarking and basic BD-Live connectivity are available.

Final Thoughts

This film is harmless enough and adds a family friendly Christmas film to the Blu-ray collection. If you think it's a total degradation of the original then stay away. However, this one is really hard for me to recommend do to the terribly poor quality of the disc. The video presentation is nigh unwatchable, and the audio presentation is just above mediocre. Because of the flub ups with the disc itself I'll have to only recommend the movie to fans of it. If you like the movie, maybe you'll overlook the shameful quality of the disc.

Technical Specs

  • BD/DVD combo

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Spanish: DTS 5.1
  • French: DTS 5.1
  • English: DVS DD 2.0


  • English, French, Spanish


  • Feature commentary with director Ron Howard
  • Visual Effects
  • Music video: Faith Hill, "Where Are You Christmas?"
  • Trailer
  • Spotlight on Location
  • Deleted scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Who School
  • Makeup application and design
  • Seussian Set Decoration

Exclusive HD Content

  • D-Box
  • BD Live - Basic Download Center
  • My Scenes Bookmarking

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