How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Collector's Edition on DVD

Jim Carrey, Molly Shannon, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor. Directed by Ron Howard. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1. 105 minutes. 2000. Universal B00005. PG. $26.98.

Despite my initial reservations, I was entirely entertained by How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the live-action iteration of the classic animated version of the famous Dr. Seuss book. Although the storyline follows the classic to a large degree, the characters are slightly altered. Until now, the Grinch we know and love has been, simply, the banana with a greasy black peel whom we wouldn't touch with a 39½-foot pole. But this Grinch (Jim Carrey) has a softer side—a relic from his childhood that was largely suppressed due to a heartbreaking incident involving an electric razor, a young Mayor May Who (Jeffrey Tambor), the Grinch himself (hirsute, even at age 8), and the prized Martha May Whovier (Christine Baranski).

This traumatic episode drove the green outcast to his lair in the hills above Whoville, where he would have lived out his days in relative solitude had it not been for precocious little Cindy Lou Who. She leads him back to public life, where the Grinch is really quite boisterous and far less Grinchy than I remember. There he realizes that it is his responsibility to show the Whos—corrupted by holiday commercialism and misplaced values—the error of their ways. Thus, this Grinch is less the quirky antagonist of the animated version and more the grumpy protagonist. Still, it's fun, and this DVD is a must-have, with more extras than all the booty in the Grinch's sleigh.

This Collector's Edition DVD from Universal has all the usual features of any respectable DVD—trailers, production notes, cast and crew information, DVD-ROM features—as well as a Spotlight On Location featurette showing director Ron Howard directing in full Grinch makeup, and including interviews with Carrey, Howard, and others. The deleted scenes look better than normal, but still have lots of grain and bad sound, which is not uncommon. Outtakes, a music video, Wholiday recipes, sing-along songs, and documentaries on the set decoration, the visual effects, and the makeup artistry are among other extras—some insightful, some fluff—that will go a long way toward making this disc a permanent holiday favorite.

As for the video, the sets (constructed of more than six miles of Styrofoam) lend themselves well to the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. Colors in Whoville are very vibrant and saturated, and the video has no significant artifacts. Things are a little darker in the Grinch's lair, but shadow detail is excellent, and blacks are very deep. Through no fault of the DVD itself, however, I felt a little claustrophobic—after all, the entire film was shot on a soundstage.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is very lively, with lots of action for the surround channels. Cindy Lou Who's voice comes across clear as a bell in the center channel, and ambient effects are vivid and sometimes startling. You also have the option of hearing How the Grinch Stole Christmas in DTS, which is even better.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a welcome addition to our long list of holiday classics; it's right up there with the Rankin/Bass claymations, It's a Wonderful Life, and, of course, the animated classic of the same name.