Film Advent Calendar – Day 12: How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Christmas comes but once a year. Once too often so far as I am concerned. All sparkles and crackers, tinsel and tat. This year I’m minded to stay in bed until the horror show of insincerity and excess is done. 

So when asked to review a Christmas themed film you can imagine my disgruntlement. After all, I was the nine-year old child who left the film E.T. utterly unmoved and thinking how wet the scabby little alien was.  I am not genetically predisposed towards fluff.

Really, there was only one movie I could review that suited my festival grumpiness – How The Grinch Stole Christmas. And only the Jim Carrey version at that – because I’m tight and it was free on ITV2.  I settled down with a bucket of cool Doritos and a malodorous dog prepared for two hours of child orientated torture. With added bells. What I got was something else entirely. 

From the moment little poppet Cindy Lou (Taylor Momson who has clearly never recovered from the hairdo inflicted upon her in this movie) opens her mouth I find I’m in total agreement with her sentiments about the festive excesses. Standing as she is in a shopping mall, arms filled with presents, she tells us it’s too much. And she’s right. Especially when she describes everyone as getting crabapple’d. I’m one rotten hump of crap apple when it comes to Christmas. 

I blame E.T. 

Enter Carrey’s Grinch. Like a radioactive Orville* in his brown cloak, he’s out to cause merry stink as he slinks and mischiefs his way through Whoville, tripping, ripping, trashing Christmas.  And I’m waving my snacks and cheering him on while sniggering in recognition at the Christmas tropes that are being skewered as he goes.

There’s hinky business with the Mayor of Whoville, a long time adversary and mocker of difference. There are terrible hairstyles and matching pinafores. Lederhosen makes an appearance, as a does a baseball cap that makes The Grinch look strangely Trumpian.  There’s a plot that reminds me somewhat of The Nightmare Before Christmas with added snark and a neat environmental message. And there’s a brilliant dog called Max.

Remind you of anyone?

But hang on a minute – what’s this? What’s that stuttering under my rib cage? Could it be a heart? Is it swelling for Christmas as I follow little Cindy Lou in her quest to find the true meaning of Christmas while exhorting the good folk of Whoville to accept the town’s outcast as one of them?

Ye Gads! I feel almost sparkly. Perhaps it’s time to don a Christmas jumper with flashing Rudolph snout. Thankfully I choke on a Dorito with all the emotion and my tanks of Christmas cheer return to their normal status of empty.  

This is funny. Very funny. That kind of smart funny where the humour works on two levels – child friendly on the surface but with a whole lot of adult subtext and what-the-heckery at another. I’m thinking of keys in bowls here. Of brown noses. Of anything the divine Christine Baranski utters whenever she graces the screen in her sexy Santa frock.

HTGSC is the perfect Christmas film for this Grinchette, devoid of unicorn glitter cannons and slush as it is.  Rather, it’s a two-hour step out of time with a smart, funny movie that had a lot to say in a short time without being preachy. And it has a great big green heart.

Mind, I do suspect The Grinch would barbecue E.T. if he were ever to come in contact with the little termite. A Grinchette can dream…

* Orville being a bright green baby bird puppet that scarred a generation of British children. He had his own line of Christmas songs. See below.  

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