HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (1966) and (2000) reviews

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In commemoration of the upcoming release of, THE GRINCH (2018), I’ve decided to take a trip down Nostalgia Lane and look back on the previous Grinch films, which does imply the original animated version. Because the animated original is less than thirty minutes long, I’m just going to include it in this review to save on multiple posts.

It actually may surprise a bunch of people, but I didn’t exactly grow up with a bunch of Dr. Seuss books. I mean, sure, Green Eggs & HamOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and Cat In The Hat, but I never read some of the other famous ones. It’s kind of a shame, really, but I’ve always had a deep level of respect for the author and his incredible vision.

The movies, on the other hand, are absolute dog turds. Well, okay, I kind of like HORTON HEARS A WHO, but if you’re like my co-worker who thinks that CAT IN THE HAT was a legit funny movie, I’m going to tell you that you need Jesus in your life, and I don’t even hold that much stock in religion. The movies have a nasty reputation of being awful adaptations of the classic kids books, and rightfully so. In fact, due to the critical failure and audience hatred for CAT IN THE HAT, a film that even Mike Myers didn’t even want to do in the first place, Dr. Seuss’ widow was so appalled by the final product that she has forbidden the creation of another live-action film. Animation continues to be acceptable, but if CAT IN THE HAT is what put the nail in that coffin, then it’s both not a surprise, and a great big sigh of relief.

This may also come as a shock to everyone, but while I’ve seen the live-action Grinch movie, I’ve actually never seen the animated original. Won’t lie, I’m a little excited for that. It’s the live-action one that I’m worried won’t hold up, so let’s get to it.

1966 Cast:

Boris Karloff (THE MUMMY [1932] and FRANKENSTEIN [1931]), and uncredited folks, June Foray (THE LOONEY, LOONEY, LOONEY BUGS BUNNY MOVIE [1981] and CINDERELLA [1950]), Dal McKennon (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), and Thurl Ravenscroft (THE ARISTOCATS [1970] and MARY POPPINS [1964])

1966 Crew:

Co-directors: Chuck Jones (basically everything Looney Tunes) and Ben Washam (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of)
Book: Dr. Seuss
Composer: Eugene Poddany (a lot of Looney Tunes)
Editors: Lovell Norman (editorial debut) and John O. Young (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of)


2000 Cast:

Jim Carrey (BAD BATCH [2016], and the upcoming SONIC THE HEDGEHOG [2019]), Taylor Momsen (stuff I’ve either not seen or heard of), Jeffrey Tambor (DEATH OF STALIN [2018] and THE ACCOUNTANT [2016]), and Christine Baranski (MAMMA MIA! [2008] and HERE WE GO AGAIN [2018], BAD MOMS X-MAS [2017], and MISS SLOANE [2016])

2000 Crew:

Director: Ron Howard (STAR WARS: SOLO [2018], INFERNO [2017], and IN THE HEART OF THE SEA [2015])
Writers: Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman (WILD WILD WEST [1999] and WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT [1988])
Composer: James Horner (MAGNIFICENT SEVEN [2016], SOUTHPAW [2015], AVATAR [2009], THE LEGEND OF ZORRO [2005], THE MASK OF ZORRO [1998], JUMANJI [1995], and STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN [1982]) – RIP, sir.
Cinematographer: Donald Peterman (MEN IN BLACK [1997] and ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES [1993]) – RIP, sir.
Editors: Daniel P. Hanley (INFERNO, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, and PET SEMATARY [1989]) and Mike Hill (IN THE HEART OF THE SEA and PET SEMATARY)

This is my honest opinion of: HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (1966) and (2000)

 

(SUMMARY)

Set on a snowflake, there lives the town of Whoville, and Christmas is fast approaching and everyone is excited for the holiday. However, on the outskirts of Whoville lives the Grinch (Boris Karloff [1966] / Jim Carrey [2000]), who hates Christmas and vows to ruin it for the Whos down in Whoville.

(REVIEW)

First and foremost, I rather enjoyed the animated original. It was simple and it was cute. I even give credit to how the Grinch was animated at times. This little cartoon wasn’t afraid to make him look like a monster, but by the time the story ends, he looks sweet. It’s fairly gratifying and it’s no wonder why it’s such a classic. I can’t say I love it, but it’s worth it for the kiddies and even adults can enjoy themselves too.

The live-action film, however, does not hold up so well. At all, really.

Let’s start with the positives, as there’s not many to name. For one, yes, Jim Carrey looks perfectly like the Grinch and that make up and suit look great. I also rather enjoyed his lair, as there did feel like there was a great deal of creativity. The zipline into the recliner, I won’t lie, I want that for my own house. And Taylor Momsen was pretty cute as Cindy Lou Who. Not the best singer, but a passable enough kid actress at the time.

My compliments end there.

Look at Whoville. It’s so depressing to look at. All grey and foggy, this should be a colorful winter wonderland, but one would think that because of its saturated color scheme, it would have been a colony meant for Grinches, not Whos. The dark and depressing decor makes sense for Grinch’s layer because he lives in isolation and has no need for the concept of cleaning up after himself.

The Whos are no worse. The cartoon, and I assume the book, didn’t feature the Whos as materialistic psychos. They were a people that already understood the values of family, friends, and community togetherness. They were the personification of what Grinch was supposed to learn. His hatred for Christmas came from the noise of all the presents they gave each other. His mistake was thinking that Christmas was about materialism, and by stealing all the presents and everything that he thought made Christmas, well, Christmas, then he would find satisfaction in the quiet. However, this movie makes it so that even the Whos have to learn what Christmas is all about. Not a bad idea on the surface, but the lessons don’t come at a natural pace. When they laugh at Grinch for his Chairmeister (spelled correctly?) gift, no one starts spreading the word that maybe it was mean-spirited to act that way to Grinch and that they never used to act that way before. But that’s not what happens, or anything similar. Grinch steals everything, they’re about to break down and cry, and then a few sentences later and everyone knows what the meaning of Christmas is. Please, these people had their values place on materialism like it was a commandment. An entire community wouldn’t have changed that in less than five minutes.

And what’s with Grinch’s backstory? Okay, giving him an actual reason for hating Christmas isn’t the worst idea. In fact, the idea of the reason because of bullying on Christmas day at school as a child isn’t so bad. However, the devil is in the details. Why is there a romantic interest in Martha May (Christine Baranski)? What did she have to do with anything? Her character adds nothing… except a gratuitous shot of the Grinch motorboating her breasts. Yeah, sure, because that’s what was missing from a Dr. Seuss story… Anyway, but there’s nothing that really makes sense about the exact reason. “You’re eight years old and you have a beard.” Um… no he didn’t. I didn’t even see a little bit of peach fuzz. Even if I’m wrong and I simply didn’t see it, that doesn’t qualify as a beard. And Grinch, being a relatively mean-spirited kid who destroyed his mothers’ family heirlooms just to make a present for Martha May, one would think that it’d be rather difficult to insult him. Maybe if Grinch was a legitimately nice kid, then this shift in character would make sense. But as the story presents it, it doesn’t make all the sense in the world.

Overall, even the good moments have a tendency to get ruined by something annoying. While I may not hate the movie, I don’t consider it a Christmas classic anymore. Too dumb and not all that enjoyable. Sure, the production value can be impressive, Carrey looks great, and I enjoyed most everything in Grinch’s layer, but the rest of the movie, including its story and morals are all confused. Here’s hoping that the animated remake will fix these problems. If you’re still a fan of the live-action, I guess I can’t convince people against nostalgia, but personally, I will be watching the animated original. Simple, but better.

My honest rating for:
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (1966): 5/5
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (2000): a weak 3/5

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