My most favorite Christmas movie of all time is A Christmas Carol. My second favorite: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Unsurprisingly, the two movies have a great deal in common, including central characters who both misunderstand what the season is all about, having unpleasant memories closely related to such, and who undergo dramatic changes of heart as they learn about the true spirit of Christmas, one which defies the greedy materialism of the age they live in. So, not surprising that I love them both! 🙂
Starring Jim Carrey as the titular Grinch, this live action feature tells the story of everyone’s favorite grouchy, green-skinned trickster. It’s a hilarious ride, from start to finish, and one with a pointed message.
The original tale, written by Dr. Seuss, is widely known and beloved, both the written and animated version. The original Grinch was mostly just grumpy and didn’t like Christmas because of all the noise, noise, noise that the toy-obsessed children make all day, every year, followed by a feast, meaning more noise, which finally concludes with everyone in town singing together, aka, more noise. The Grinch interprets that song to mean a celebration of all the presents they’ve been playing with, and bothering him with. So, he decides to take all of the presents and feasting away, thinking he’ll finally have some peace and quiet, and all the living noise-makers can cry their eyes out for all he cares. The plan is only disrupted when he hears them singing anyway, and he realizes that Christmas means more than the presents he’s stolen, so he returns them, having learned a valuable lesson.
The cinematic version of the tale is, in my opinion, a bit deeper than that. Instead of leaving the Grinch as a simple grouch that delights only in his ill deeds, they went back into his past, to offer an explanation of why he hates Christmas so much. It’s partially his disposition, but such was cemented by some unpleasant childhood experiences. He hates Christmas not only for the noise, but also because he looks at the Whos of Whoville, and sees a sort of madness in their zealotry, as they greedily obsessing over presents, and lights, and contests, and status, and more, more, more.
That’s one of my favorite parts about this movie. While the Grinch is prancing around, a mischief-maker and proud of it, railing against the materialism that dominates the season, he is not the only one to learn the moral of this story. The Whos learn it with him. In fact, he guides them to it, and they guide him in turn. And the driving force of this movement is a small Who girl, Cindy Lou. It’s the child, the one who is supposed to be the most obsessed with presents, who is trying to tell people how the presents mean very little.
My single most favorite part of the movie, outside Grinch’s heart growing three sizes, is how Cindy’s father is the first one to truly listen to her. The Whos are brought low, and the hypocritical mayor is berating her, and Lou steps up to her defense, having realized the truth, and using it to protect his daughter. Just like that, everyone is able to find happiness with pretty much nothing. Nothing, that is, except for the most important of things: family.
That’s one thing the original story didn’t really have, as I recall. It didn’t really say what we should prioritize at Christmastime, if not presents. But the movie does.
It’s not just peace and joy and love, noble as those things are, but it’s love of our family, even extending that out to the whole of human family, which is the true spirit of Christmas.
So, basically: it’s a hilarious movie, with a touching message, and characters that are a bit more than one-dimensional. I like this! 🙂
Rating: 10 stars out of 10.