Dec 25, 2014

Review: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

The last of my annual Christmas trifecta, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is children's entertainment at its finest. It's the kind of movie that for me as a kid, it strangely felt a whole lot longer than it really was because of how awesome and draining an experience it was every time it came on. I don't really know why that is, but I guess it's because of the excitement I felt while watching it, which would  then flatline at the end. Kind of like going through a time machine you know? Some kind of fun to unfun time machine.

What's weird is that I don't think I've ever even read Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, even as a kid. I've read some of his other books and it's honestly pretty difficult to pick a favourite. If I really had to narrow it down, I guess it would be between Green Eggs and Ham and The Lorax. Anyhow, back to The Grinch.


Genre: animation, short, comedy
Directed by: Chuck Jones, Ben Washam
Produced by: Chuck Jones, Dr. Seuss
Written by: Dr. Seuss, Irv Spector, Bob Ogle
Music by: Albert Hague, Eugene Poddany, Dr. Seuss
Running time: 26 minutes
Production company: The Cat in the Hat Productions, MGM Television
Distributed by: Columbia Broadcasting System, MGM/UA Home Entertainment, Warner Bros., etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $315,000
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Boris Karloff, June Foray, Dal McKennon, Thurl Ravenscroft



Inside a cave at the top of Mt. Crumpit lives the Grinch, who hates pretty much everything. Above all though, he hates Christmas the most. That's because at the bottom of his mountaintop abode, the Whos of Whoville always make a whole bunch of racket during Christmas that disturbs his grumpy isolation. After 53 years of enduring this hardship, the Grinch hatches a plan to take Christmas away from the Whos forever.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas! captures Dr. Seuss' vision to perfection. The short is a wonderful example of humourous imagination that's great to watch whether you're five or five-hundred. Set to the wonderful narration of Chuck Jones, it's the kind of movie that I find myself quoting in my head quite often because of how memorable Jones' voice is. Only in my head though because I could never replicate that silky smooth delivery.

That Seuss imagination is on full display when Chuck Jones rattles off the different kinds of toys all the Whos will be getting at Christmas as well as all the food items on the menu. The songs are also way too much fun for their own good. How anyone could not like "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is beyond me. It's catchy and I find that I get a new favourite lyric every time I watch HtGSC!

The animation has a couple of errors here and there, mostly with certain colours changing from time to time. It's the kind of thing that if How the Grinch Stole Christmas! were restored and completely fixed, I'd be pretty sad to see those errors gone. As far as I'm concerned, they're part of the movie now.

The design for the Grinch is brilliant though and there's nothing like seeing him make his famously evil grin as he comes to the realization that he knows just what he'll do to ruin Christmas for the Whos. Despite being a bad guy, he's such an entertaining character that you can't help but feel his glee as he stuffs his sacks full of toys and decorations.

There's of course a nice message in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and it's nicely woven in. (Spoilers) One of my favourite lines of the short is "How could it be so? It came without ribbons!... it came without tags!... it came without packages, boxes, or bags!"which the Grinch says as he realizes that Christmas isn't gone even though he took everything away. This is what leads to the Grinch's redemption and new-found role as the hero of the story. (Spoilers)

The message of HtGSC! is that Christmas is about being with the people we love and who love us. It's about being a better person and not because of presents, silly decorations or huge helpings of roast beast. It's a nice message amid all the consumerism around us.



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