Electric Boogaloo: How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Our column is given a Christmas theme this week, as Steven Ross discusses this Jim Carrey classic

Steven Ross
13th December 2017
Image: Jim Carrey Online

Technically not a sequel, ‘The Grinch’ is a remake of the 1966 animated short film of the same name, adapted itself from the classic Dr Seuss story. While the original movie had pretty good animation for its time and was adored by critics for the cutesy family festive film that it was and is, the remake is just much funnier, and generally a more enjoyable film.

You already know the plot, but I’ll run through it anyway for the sake of context. Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not. As a consequence, he dresses up as Santa and breaks into every house in Whoville in order to steal their presents and ruin their Christmas.

But will his plan work..? It’s a Christmas film, of course it won’t. But that minor spoiler is unimportant. What’s important is the story, which Ron Howard built on and reinvigorated to create a movie that would become a staple of a new generation’s Christmas viewing.

One wonders how many people would remember that in original film, the Grinch was voiced by Boris Karloff, y’know, the guy from all those 1930s horror movies.Yet Jim Carrey’s portrayal in the 2000 remake is universally recognised as providing some of the funniest scenes of Christmas cinema. For instance when the Grinch argues with his own echo, or when he is reunited with the women who raised him, and responds, ‘are you two still living?’ And, while the animated Grinch was unsettlingly expressive, Carrey managed much greater visual comedy through the mask of green makeup.

That’s what really puts the remake above the original. Jim Carrey.

He really was the best comic actor to take on this role. Eddie Murphy and Jack Nicholson were both considered, but neither have the same level of comedic skill. Carrey brought the insecure, self-loathing character of the Grinch to the screen in hilarious fashion, and without him the movie would be a shadow of what it is.

Obviously, the extra 70 minutes running time help too, as so much more can be explored, but whereas with the original, the movie would have surely dragged after the first hour, Howard’s version never does. And even though we already know the story of the Grinch, we still watch the longer, better adaptation of Seuss’s book every year.

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