How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Three Times!

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Alex Ramirez, Reporter

In 1957, author Theodor Seuss Giesel, better known as Dr. Seuss, published the book How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The book was about a foul, mean creature known as the Grinch, who hates Christmas so much that he goes out of his way to steal it from the Whos down in Whoville, only to find out that Christmas means so much more than just the material things that most people associate the holiday with, causing his heart to grow three sizes that day. Since then, the book has seen three distinct adaptations to film, all having their unique strengths and weaknesses.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

On December 18, 1966, a short film titled How The Grinch Stole Christmas! was first aired on television. The short was directed and co-produced by cartoonist Chuck Jones, who previously worked on Looney Tunes shorts, and is narrated by Boris Karloff, an actor known for his role in the 1931 film Frankenstein. This film is the shortest adaptation, only clocking in around 26 minutes, though broadcasts in the 1980’s cut down much of the content from the short such as the second singing of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”. It is worth noting that the short also invents the concept of the Grinch being green, as he was actually white in the original book. Aside from that, as well as a few visual gags, this short is the most faithful adaptation of the book.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (2000)

On November 8, 2000, the world was introduced to the Grinch in live-action with the film How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The film was the first theatrical film based on Dr. Seuss’s work, with Seuss’s widow, Audrey Giesel, working as an executive producer. The film stars Jim Carrey as the titular Grinch, an actor and comedian whose specialty was being over-the-top, but has since taken time off from acting. The film takes many liberties with the source material, including many pop culture references and adult jokes. The film also introduces the idea of the Grinch being a Who who ran away from Whoville to live on Mount Crumpit after being rejected by society on Christmas, as well as making Cindy Lou Who more mature and making her a main character in the story. This film was the first of only two live-action films, with the other being 2003’s Cat In The Hat starring Mike Myers. After the latter film’s failure, Audrey Geisel forbade any more live action films based on her husband’s work, which is how Blue Sky and Illumination, both being animation studios, were able to adapt his work while fulfilling Audrey’s wishes.

The Grinch (2018)

With Seuss’s work now having to be strictly animated, Illumination Entertainment decided to try their hand at a Grinch adaptation, once again having Audrey Giesel as an executive producer. The film was released on November 9, 2018, with the Grinch now voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. This film has the most distinct title, being called simply The Grinch as opposed to the more traditional How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, though the 2000 film used The Grinch as an alternative title for promotional purposes. Just like the 2000 movie, the 2018 film shows the Grinch’s backstory, but they portray the Grinch as a more sympathetic character. On top of this, the jokes are more toned down compared to the other film, making it more family-friendly compared to its live action counterpart. This film carries the tradition of Cindy Lou Who being more mature than in the book or original short, even going as far as to give her an arc of her own. The Grinch was the final film Audrey Geisel produced before her death on December 18, 2018 at the age of 97.

Overall, each film is different from one another. The original is a beloved classic that’s shown on Christmas every year, the 2000 live-action film is both beloved and disliked for how ridiculous it is, and the 2018 film is enjoyed by many but is often seen as the most bland version. Regardless, all three still hold the holiday spirit and have something for everyone to enjoy, even if they don’t celebrate Christmas.