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. 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. 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) – Did we need ANOTHER Grinch? Why reboot this one; it’s been done enough, surely? 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)

Movie Review – Coco (RunPee Jilly’s POV)

This wildly beautiful animated film celebrates Latino culture, inter-generational family connections, one possible interpretation of the afterlife, and, most obviously, what the Day of the Dead is all about.

I’m not an expert on Mexican holidays, but it felt authentica. The animated humans were pretty adorable, and the Miguel/Hector interactions  stole my dark little heart. Then the perito…what can I say? He seemed firstly like a typical cutsie sidekick, but we get a little Scooby treat in the end.

Even the cast and plot held together — which in animated films can be hit or miss. Coco is on the level of Inside Out for me: giving me deeper things to think about, with a visual feast to sit back and enjoy.

The “real world” first act was only okay, (which brings the grade down from a perfect A+ score) – kind of like a Mexican Footloose – but once we let any semblance of reality go, crossing the bridge to the afterworld, things become fabuloso, wacky, quirky, and really, really fun.

New anthology films in this undead setting could start a whole new franchise. Like traipsing to a more colorful Narnia, we’d enjoy staying in the brightly festooned, colorful cities, teeming with glitzy skele-people and their bold, big lives-after-death. Nice place to visit, I think.

What this film does best of all (besides making me sob like a baby: be warned) lies in the pretty. It’s gorgeous. Every scene in the land of the dead is phenomenal.  Worth seeing in 3D, and definitely worth owning as a DVD, to play over and over again, no matter what your nationality, or afterlife belief.

Good, solid entertainment for anyone, at any age. This one reaches the ranks of the better animated movies (feel free to post those in the comments for discussion). Darkly beautiful: thanks, Pixar!

Movie Grade: A

Movie Review – Coco (RunPee Niece’s POV)

This is a movie that anyone who values their family should see. If you’re having a rough go of it with your family, go watch Coco. If you’re as close to them as possible, go watch Coco. I assure you, you will not leave disappointed.

I took my 4 year old daughter to see this, and she ended up making fun of me for my “ugly crying” at the end. Coco did an outstanding job of pulling on heart strings you didn’t even know you had, while still leaving you begging for more.

The animation was spot on and absolutely beautiful. The best part is that the voices weren’t at all annoying like most children’s movies out there. I honestly can’t wait until Coco is released on DVD, because I will be the first in line to buy it.

Movie Grade: A+