I would only be invoking grand irony if I were to complain about The Grinch (the movie, not the character) being a shallow, sickeningly sentimental, surprisingly witless and ironically cynical Christmas marketing ploy, so I won't. It had nice sets, teeth and green hair though. Quite why Ron Howard decided to make a full length feature on such a thin premise - I think Dr Seuss' work is an American thing - I'm not entirely certain, but it gave James Horner the chance to pen an occasionally delightful score. The first half features a multitude of songs by various famous and not so famous artists, some of which are quite fun, the Barenaked Ladies have a good sense of humour, but in the main they are pretty tedious collection or rock, pop and r'n'b, rounded out by an obnoxious performance of Where Are You Christmas? by Faith Hill, even if it is based on a theme from the score itself.
After all that ranting, I feel like a lie down (and appear to be growing green hair), but I can at least enjoy James Horner's score. Maybe that it isn't 80 minutes in length is an advantage, but that it features a couple of memorable tunes, including the aforementioned song melody which forms the main theme. There is a distinct whiff of Casper and Danny Elfman's Edward Scissorhands at times, although the latter is hardly surprising for this kind of score. The Shape of Things To Come opens Horner's half, but isn't really that inspiring with a rather embarrassing toy march song performed by the residents of Whoville; did it really need to be that silly? Christmas, Why Can't I Find You is performed by possibly the most yucky child actor ever to appear on the silver screen, not helped by those pillars of ivory that are her (false) teeth. If you thought Dreams to Dream or Somewhere Out There from the American Tail scores were enough to make you return your luncheon, then I suggest you give this a miss.
From that point, the score takes a distinct turn for the better. Stealing Christmas is an enjoyable mixture of comedy suspense and dialogue from the film. Not the sort of thing I should be condoning, dialogue on a soundtrack, but in this case, it works well, especially Anthony Hopkins' droll narrator. The Big Heist is a zany action cue which might be very silly, but Horner seemingly having fun is rare these days and he approaches it with larger than life grandeur. The introspective moments, on the other hand, are subtle and effective. Does Cindy Lou Really Ruin Christmas? includes some nice variations on the main theme, including a particularly angelic choral version.
The final few tracks where the Grinch finally sees how great Christmas is and how he should be nice to everyone are resolutely upbeat and A Change of Heart swells to proportions fit for a divine vision and all's well that end's well in He Carves the Roast Beast, even if the Disney-esque ensemble vocal performance at the conclusion is a bit much. I know I'm very cynical about the film, but I just thought it was awful in almost every respect. It needed the darker edge and imagination of someone like Tim Burton to be undercut the sickliness. For a real Christmas musical and filmic treat, I'd easily recommend The Nightmare Before Christmas instead. However, Horner's score is a smile inducing forty minutes, twinkling bells and all.