Parents can relax: Ron Howard's version of Dr. Seuss' tale of the Christmas-napping Grinch is a smartly stylized hoot. It features a virtuoso performance by Jim Carrey, great-looking Seussian sets, and enough sophisticated in-jokes to keep adults interested when the whimsy level threatens to get out of hand. Carrey is pretty much the whole show, all but unrecognizable inside a hairy green suit. Saddled with a hilarious gut and impossibly long fingers, he's his usual bundle of manic energy, a contortionist with the timing of a Borscht Belt comic and a voice that sounds oddly like Sean Connery's (apparently the result of his Grinch costume's dental prosthetic). Screenwriters Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman fleshed out Seuss' bare-bones plot with some unoriginal (though not fatally so) backstory explaining why the Grinch hates Christmas and the residents of Whoville — people were mean to him when he was a child, particularly during the holidays — and added a host of characters to interact with the little heroine, Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen). Director Howard, whose only previous foray into fantasy was the leaden WILLOW, stages everything with an appropriately light touch, and gets appealing, funny performances from a large cast that includes narrator Anthony Hopkins (he's no Boris Karloff, but he does fine), Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor, and a terrier-mutt mix named Kelley, the kind of pooch you suspect could play Hamlet. The film's charms notwithstanding, it remains unclear why it needed to be a full hour longer than Chuck Jones' 1966, half-hour cartoon adaptation. And none but the thoroughly perverse of hearing should stick around for the closing credits and Faith Hill warbling "Where Are You Christmas," composer James Horner's insufferable bid for an Oscar nomination. TITANIC's "My Heart Will Go On" sounds like Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde by comparison.