Welcome to the Rotoscopers’ Twelve Days of Christmas! Every day until Christmas Eve, we’ll be taking a look at a holiday-themed piece of animation. Check back each day for a new review!
Some of my fondest Christmas memories include sitting at home in my pajamas, switching on Cartoon Network and tuning in to the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas! As a symbol of anti-Christmas, no other figure is greater or more widely recognized than the Grinch. The furry green character has become synonymous with anyone who despises the holiday, so much so that ‘Grinch’ is now commonplace as an adjective.
Produced by Chuck Jones in 1966, this adaptation of the evergreen Dr. Seuss picture book is more than a short film – it’s a rite of passage for all children who watch cartoons. The story is simple enough and well known. After noticing the Whos in Whoville celebrating Christmas, the jealous Grinch decides to steal every last bit of holiday cheer and thus spoil Christmas for everyone. Disguised as Santa Claus, the Grinch and his trusty dog Max set off to steal Christmas.
This mini movie is wonderfully narrated by Boris Karloff, who also provides the voice of the Grinch. What stands out about this adaptation is that much of the original text from Dr. Seuss’ book is retained, with the addition of a sprinkling of original songs. The best and most memorable song in the film, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” has even become a jazz standard, covered by a slew of artists over the years (Sample lyrics: “You’re as cuddly as a cactus, you’re as charming as an eel/ You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel”). In fact, this song is what this film is known for.
The animation features Chuck Jones’ signature sketchy style, also seen in his Tom and Jerry cartoons. The film has an abundance of visual gags and hilarious sequences, which add to the charm of the book. In terms of characters, the Grinch himself is true to his character and someone who we never really come to hate (In fact, as the Christmas season becomes increasingly commercial and artificial, I often find myself relating to the Grinch).
If there’s one standout character I would pick it would be Max, the Grinch’s dog. Adorable and innocent, Max steals the show as the complete opposite of the Grinch, reluctantly following his master’s orders. Not to mention this epic gag:
AND this. Come on, how can you not love Max?
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! succeeds in striking the right balance between being true to the source material and adopting a modern comedic tone suited to the animated medium. In fact, it goes beyond the humor of the book and adds its own nifty little original jokes and gags. For example, Whoville is much more fleshed out and detailed in this special as compared to the book. It’s almost as if Dr. Seuss’ book was adapted from the cartoon rather than the other way round.
I struggle to find any flaws in the film, because every element comes together perfectly and shines in unison. The humor, animation, narration and music blend together to give us the kind of Christmas classic we’ll forever love. Grinch! doesn’t do anything groundbreaking or new. It just tells a simple, straightforward, almost familiar story. And that is why it is so universally loved and acknowledged. Its simplicity and directness is its main strength.
If you’ve never seen How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, then you simply must. It’s an ultimate Christmas classic which absolutely holds up today and hasn’t aged a bit. Its messages of love, kindness and generosity are themes which will forever embody the true Christmas spirit and will be cherished for generations.
So watch this cartoon, that’s all I will say. Your heart will grow three sizes that day!
What are your thoughts on the 1966 Grinch special? Like it or love it?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes