Look, I'll make it simple: The reason Dr. Seuss' original ''How the Grinch Stole Christmas!'' is a slender classic of antimaterialism comes down to one line: '''Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store.''' The season, Ted Geisel was saying, is not about stuff. Ron Howard's Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas is all about stuff. From the bric-a-brac Styrofoam sets to the ugly Twilight Zone faces of the Whos to Jim Carrey's hairy man-breasts, the movie substitutes audiovisual megakill for emotion. And that's just on screen; act now, and you can buy the ''Grinch'' video-and-plush-doll pack, or the Collector's Edition DVD with fold-out sets and Faith Hill video, or the Grinch Shower Radio!
A cheap shot given that every family movie comes with tie-ins? It's unfair to review the promotion as well as the film? Perhaps, but I'll say it again: This particular story is about the irrelevance of possessions. The way the marketing's stripmining of the kiddie demographic extends to the clanging vulgarity of everything on screen provides a working definition of the debasement of American movies. But listen, go ahead and let the kids watch it eight times a week. Just turn up the volume so you can't hear Ted spinning.