Looking back on… How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Directed by: Chuck Jones & Ben Washam

Starring: Boris Karloff, Thurl Ravenscroft, June Foray
Written by David
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Anticipation: 10/10  I could not be more excited to watch Dr. Seuss’ ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’, and this will never change.  We are of course, talking about the original, the animated film, and not that Jim Carrey trash that I will never watch again.  It is one of the few movies that you could put on regardless of my mood, time of day, or time of year.  This will put me in an immediately good mood.   Combine this with the fact that we are headed into the holiday season, and watching this felt like perfection.  I have been called a Grinch or a Scrooge on more than one occasion, but this story is genuinely heartwarming.  On to the review!    

Final Verdict: 10/10  My apologies to fans of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, ‘A Christmas Story’, ‘The Christmas Carol’, and ‘Die Hard’ (and I’m a huge fan of all of these), but the Grinch is the perfect Christmas movie.  There is definitely a reason that I watch this a minimum of twice every Christmas season.  And yes, I am insanely biased here.  It was one of my favorite books as a child, and the movie stays so faithful to the equal parts petty and fun moods that the book sets.  One of the few animated films that I would give a 10/10.

‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ is the story of a Grinch (we don’t really know what a Grinch is, and that makes it even better.  Pay attention, Ron Howard.) who just can’t stand the Whos down in Whoville and their Christmas celebrations.  He just can’t deal with all the “Noise, Noise, Noise!”  And really, who hasn’t felt that urge to shout “get off my lawn” or “turn down that music” at one point or another?  The story continues and focuses on his mission (along with his dog Max) to stop Christmas from coming!  It features the voice talents of Boris Karloff (of Frankenstein fame) as the Grinch, as well as an amazingly memorable song (You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch) from Thurl Ravenscroft.

So what is so wonderful about the Grinch?  I think that the most important thing is that our protagonist is villainous and yet we can relate to his feelings.  Many times in movies, we have a villain who goes through an arc, but it’s really in service to our “hero.”  In this movie, there is no standard hero.  There is no one to swoop in and save the day from the Grinch.  So it is up to our protagonist to be changed and learn the lesson on his own.  And as I mentioned, we can actually relate to the villain and his circumstance.  It is not just that his heart is too small; we’ve all gotten grumpy about the holidays and probably just wanted it all to stop. 

It is actually a difficult movie to write about because of several reasons.  There are very few characters and character interactions.  We have the Grinch and his dog, and that’s pretty much it except for the Who’s, who aside from Cindy Lou are all completely interchangeable.  They are happy, loud, and naïve.  Another reason is that it is so short.  But I will say this.  If you want a movie that inhabits the spirit of Christmas, the giving, the joy, and the heartfelt emotion, this movie does in 25 minutes what many others struggle to do in 2 hours or more. 

Another interesting note is that the movie allows us to take a serious glee in the viciousness and pettiness of the Grinch.  This is a character that literally steals all of the decorations and won’t even leave a crumb for a mouse.  It would be easy for him to just be stereotypically evil.  But here, thanks to lovely, old school animation and the catchiest song you can imagine, we find ourselves strangely rooting for him.  And this is what makes it truly great.  If it was just an evil character that learns a lesson in the end, I mean we’ve seen that all before.  But because we are there with him on his journey, because we take a sick pleasure in him stealing Christmas, when he has his change of heart, so to speak, we do too.  Just as we took joy in his evil acts, we take an even greater joy in his final turn.  Honestly, if you’re not smiling by the end of this short, I don’t know what to do with you.  You might be an actual Grinch, with the smallest heart imaginable.

So, of course, this comes highly recommended.  This is the best Christmas film ever made, and in my mind, I’m not sure it can ever be equaled.  Spend 25 minutes of you time.  Relish the good and the bad that is in all of us.  Happy Holidays!









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