In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

To start with, the Grinch doesn’t seem all that bad. He doesn’t like a lot of dissonant noise. That’s hardly a crime. I don’t know why he seems to hate Roast Beast, but maybe he’s on a diet. And he’s never directly mean to anyone. Look how sweet he was to Cindy Lou Who. He gave her a cup of water and patted her head and practically tucked the tot into bed.

He’s also a pet owner.  He owns a dog! This is a creature he feeds and looks out for, and probably gives him company while he schemes in his lonely cave. Honestly, I think this guy has probably a big history with rejection.

I didn’t like him whipping Max all the way up to the top of Mount Crumpet, but this was in the 60s, and people might have been less sensitive about this kind of thing then.

I also noticed he’s quite domestic. He sewed up a nice red Santa coat with a treadle sewing machine, and hand stitched white cotton onto his hat.

His stealing techniques were masterly creative. He used a cane like a pool cue on the Christmas balls, walked the wind-up toys into his sack, and drove the choo choo train off its rails. He was having a lot of fun. He’s probably be a hoot to hang around with a few beers in him.

And he comes through in the end. He hears the Whos singing,  realizes that one’s thoughts determine their reality, and saves the day he worked so hard to steal. He goes from loser to hero over the course of one life-affirming moment, and best of all: the Whos accept him to their hearts and their table without fuss or complaint. In this moment, everyone who’s been damaged by rejection can also heal, even a tiny bit, and feel hope again.

Not bad for 1966 children’s cartoon special.

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

He's still a mean one.
He’s still a mean one.

With the newest incarnation of The Grinch in theaters this year, we thought it was time to take a look at the history of this mean green creature, who is both dastardly and oddly sympathetic.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas  (1957) – The original kid’s book by Dr. Seuss is beloved, and for very good reasons. It started it all, showing us a grumpy Gus who hates the holiday (shades of A Christmas Carol). He steals, he lies, he abuses his dog Max, and breaks Cindy Lou Who’s trust…but eventually hears the joyous music and comes through in the end. This is an allegory for humanity, in a real way. [pullquote]We can be mean, we can hurt others to hide our own miserable loneliness…but if we open ourselves — just a crack — to others…well, we might learn to belong after all.[/pullquote] Who hasn’t known this kind of profound alienation? Who doesn’t secretly dream of being accepted despite the petty crimes we’ve committed? The message hits us right in the feels. Dr. Seuss knew it. This is among the three top stories he gifted to generations of children. (Along with The Lorax and The Cat in The Hat. Can’t argue with those.)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas –  A faithful and rousing rendition of the Dr. Seuss book, the animated 26-minute special from 1966 is definitely something…yes, special. Growing up with this, it was a traditional treat to rewatch it every year, as a child. I still watch it now to herald the holiday season. Good animation, great songs (I still sing the refrain), and a story to make your heart grow three sizes in the end. A-level work.

The Grinch (2000) – The live action version with Jim Carrey dropped on the scene to a mostly poor reception. (It seems Carrey doesn’t always have the magic touch.) I recently watched this for the first time, and found it lacking. Middling, dank, arbitrary, and a bit sour. Ron Howard himself directed, and usually produces great films. What happened to the color, the joy, the fun? Not everyone panned it, however. The Wikipedia reports, “Despite mixed reviews that often compared the film unfavorably to the 1966 special, it won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was also nominated for Best Art Directionand Best Costume Design.”

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018) – [pullquote position=”right”]Did we need ANOTHER Grinch? Why reboot this one; it’s been done enough, surely? [/pullquote]In spite of my fears, every time I saw the new animated trailer in theaters I smiled and giggled in spite of myself. It looks a world of better than the live action version. I think they might get it right! I’m not the kind of critic who wants to see the same darn themes rebooted every few years, but agree Pixar knows how to craft a film. The trailer looks charming and fun: I’m all over it. If it doesn’t suck, it might put this story to bed, finally. NOTE, after seeing the 2018 movie: it didn’t. Here’s my Grinch-like review.

Watch The Grinch Trailers, to get you in the proper mood for the Mean One this Christmas: 

The Final Grinch Trailer:  

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)