Christmas Countdown Day 23: The Grinch

The Dr Seuss classic about a creepy old recluse, who after being bullied by the people of Whoville one time too many decides to steal the entire holiday from them, taking Santa’s place to bag up all their presents.

This is my first time going through either one of these movies, so I’m looking forward to getting a fresh perspective on this cult classic. Is one Grinch not enough? Have no fear, we watched both of them!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Dr Seuss don’t have the best track record in terms of adaptation loyalty in movies, but this one keeps the spirit I got from reading them as a child, with a heavy skepticism for consumerism and uncaring societies.

The Grinch has a bullying backstory that shows how rotten the town of ‘normal’ people really are. We learn all this right before they humiliate him on an even higher level. Under the guise of an apology they invite him back to town, tell him he’s a hairy freak and then make him watch the mayor propose to the woman he used to fancy. It works on some level, the town are horrible, it does get a bit weaker when the Grinch is an absolute mad lad monster, set on abusing his dog and all the people in town.

The movie really drags in a few spots, where it’s clear they needed to think of new ideas to make it last longer, but whenever it’s doing the actual plot it’s really consistant and well acted. If it could have cut a good 20-30 minutes of filler this movie would be a real treat, but I’m not so sure I’ll be going back to it any time soon because of it.

Jim Carrey is great in the role, although it did slip into him just doing his style of comedy from The Mask in order to pad a 69 page book into a film lasting 1 hour 45 minutes. His decision to do a lisp did start to make some of the lines hard to make out though. While the townsfolk are a little two-dimensional, it’s clearly by design to make this whole movie feel like a manic childrens book brought to life.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2018)

Despite being a full 20 minutes shorter, I feel like the pacing is much slower, and I’m not sure what exactly the point was a lot of the time. Here they made the townsfolk way less mean and spiteful, I suppose this was to be expected, the very ’90s mean spirited comedy isn’t really done these days, but it does make the Grinch feel much less justified in his anti-Christmas crusade.

The child in the first movie was very much part of the Grinch’s story, just giving the film makers room to pad out the film more, but here they have an almost entirely different side plot about wanting to meet Santa. It’s a massive dead weight in terms pacing that slows it even more.

Visually it’s much less disgusting to look at, which obviously was intentional in the original but it was certainly one of the reasons it took me 22 years to bother watching it. The comedy is less dated too, not relying on generic Carrey quips. This doesn’t mean that it’s neccesarily funnier, the soft tone is much more child friendly and makes me miss a bit of the originals edge. I probably did laugh at more actual jokes in this one though, rather than the confused laughter at the 2000s version’s strange hellscape of a town. He does abuse his dog much less here too which is nice!

So yeah we spent three hours watching the same movie twice, and each one had it’s charms. The original is a much better film in terms of vision, scope and loyalty to the spirit of the book. It has it’s rough spots though and could lose a good 30 minutes of terrible one liners.

The modern take is very sanitised and de-toothed, but it was much less of a drag. The side plots are more of a mess, but the nicer Grinch was certainly a more pleasant protagonist to watch.

Published by James Sumner

Writer, reviewer & journalist. BA: Multimedia Journalism. MA: PR & Digital Comms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: