Im sorry, let me try to start over.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a weird ass movie.
To be fair, the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss is built on its weirdness, with bizarre locations, funny looking characters, and nonsensical rhyming. It’s what made his stories and art style so timeless in the decades they’ve inhabited elementary school libraries.
But then along came Ron Howard. This sick son of a gun kicked the doors down at Universal Pictures, snorted a fat line of coke on the CEO’s desk, then shouted to the heavens “THE GRINCH IS GOING TO EAT GLASS AND COMMIT DOMESTIC TERRORISM!”. Universal then proceeded to cut him a check for 125 million dollars.
At least, that’s how I imagine it went down.
So what/who is The Grinch? Why does he want to steal Christmas? How does one even steal a holiday? Do the Who’s down in Whoville recognize Jesus Christ as their lord and savior?
To put it simply, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas is the story of the titular Grinch, an outcast who lives outside the small town of Whoville. Every year the Who’s down in Whoville put on an extravagant Christmas celebration, complete with feasts, singing and loud musical instruments. Every year it drives the Grinch crazy, so one year he concocts a plan to steal their decorations, presents and everything related to the holiday while they sleep. Assisted by his trusty dog Max and dressed as a discount Santa Clause, The Grinch successfully pulls off his holiday heist. When the Who’s awaken, he expects to hear them cry out in sadness, but is surprised to still hear them singing. Shaken by the realization that Christmas is much more than decorations and gifts, The Grinch has a change of heart, returning the stolen goods and celebrating Christmas with the Who’s for the first time.
This was the original story created by Dr. Seuss in 1957, which was later adapted faithfully and wondrously into an animated television film with an iconic narration from the legendary Boris Karloff. This version of the story is so beloved and so perfect that it was hard to image how this story could be stretched into a feature length film.
Well, they did it, and…there’s a lot going on here.
Lets start with the positives, with the biggest positive being Jim Carrey in his role as the titular green creature. Jim Carrey is one of those actors that has the potential to elevate a film beyond what was to be expected. He did this earlier this year with Sonic the Hedgehog, turning a by-the-numbers kids film into something I enjoyed more than I anticipated. Carrey does the same thing here, turning the sinisterly suave Grinch into a sassy, disgusting drama queen. His interpretation is loud, bombastic and ever-quotable, as any image of Carey is completely hidden under the impressive makeup and costume work. These elements are another positive, as the designs for the Who’s and their little Whoville are creative and fairly faithful to the Seuss art style. Not to mention the soundtrack can be quite fun at times, with a fairly decent rendition of the classic “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”.
Then there’s the script. Holy Hell, do they get away with a lot in this film. There’s some swearing, some sexual innuendos and even a scene of a full-on swingers party in full swing. These choices are so left-field and jarring, but as an adult who like this kind of stuff its made rewatches since getting older all the more enjoyable. Not to mention that some of the writing is genuinely funny, credited in hand by Carrey’s zany deliveries and mannerisms. The fact that this version of The Grinch has become a meme-like avatar for aging millennials in the past few years doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.
Despite these positives, my God does this film give me a headache at times. Ron Howard must not have come down from that coke high from his barge in at the Universal offices, because this film looks like it was shot by a mad man. Jarring camera movements and dutch angles that would make Battlefield Earth blush plague this film. It’s very rare to see the camera sitting still for just a moment, as its constantly moving about to keep up with the manic antics of the characters.
And the noise. The noise, noise, noise, noise, NOISE.
I get that this is the Who’s “thing”, but its soooo much energy and honestly puts me on the Grinch’s side most of the time. Everyone is shouting, there’s seldom a moment of calm or relax. The visuals, while creative, can be such an eyesore at times. The lights and the colors can be borderline seizure inducing sometimes, as I felt like I was slipping into madness after staring at the screen for too long. I said I liked the makeup done for the Who’s prior, but I can’t deny there’s something a bit unsettling about their look. Somehow Cindy Lou Who escapes looking like a dog/man hybrid, which makes me think they just look more hellish as they get older.
Because this is an adaption of kids book that’s only a few pages, there’s a lot of padding in this script to make it hit that feature length run time. There’s an unnecessary love subplot, a bizarre origin story and just a bit too much filler that ends up being grating at times. When the film sticks to its roots it works most of the time, but some of the extra story elements just feel unneeded.
I grew up with both the original television film and this film, and while I enjoy moments from the 2000 adaption, I’m more partial to the television film. It’s short, concise, stylish and timeless, while this film 100% feels like a product of its time. Even though the film has me feeling like I’m on a bad trip, How the Grinch Stole Christmas can still be a ton of fun, maybe more so for older audiences. I respect some of the decisions made and realize that this is a film uniquely its own and at least took some chances in building upon Seuss’s original vision. It’s message still rings true through the slapstick and dizzying visuals, and I can see why many consider it to be a holiday classic.
As for the 2018 film The Grinch, I’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist.
It’s a cocktail, called The Grinch
It’s tasty, and it’s green.
It’s made with sweet Midori
That gives it a pretty emerald sheen.
It’s the GriiiiiiiiiiINCH!
Now that I proved to you I am the second coming of Dr. Seuss, I’d like to convince you I’m the second coming of Jerry Thomas (yeah right) with this festive Grinch cocktail. Made green by a healthy dose of delicious Midori, this cocktail contains a hint of honeydew, melon and citrus in it. Hopefully this cocktail creates the story “How the Grinch Stole the Show at my Christmas Party” for you.
- 1.5oz Midori
- 1/2oz white rum
- 1/2oz triple sec
- Lemon lime soda or ginger ale
- Garnish: Cocktail cherry
- Pour alcohol into a lowball or rocks glass with ice.
- Top with lemon lime soda or ginger ale
- Stir to combine.
- Top with cocktail cherry.