|How the Grinch Stole Christmas! character|
The Grinch, dressed in Santa Claus garb. (1966)
|Created by||Dr. Seuss|
|Portrayed by||see below|
The grumpy, anti-holiday spirit of the character has led to the term "Grinch", which is probably derived from the French word grincheux which means "grumpy", coming to refer to a person opposed to Christmas time celebrations or to someone with a coarse, greedy attitude. In fact, a document in the live-action film stated that "The term Grinchy shall apply when Christmas spirit is in short supply".
The Grinch has since become an icon of the winter holidays, despite the character's hatred of the season, and has appeared on various forms of memorabilia such as Christmas ornaments, plush dolls, Halloween costumes, and various clothing items.
The Grinch is depicted as a furry recluse living in seclusion on a cliff overlooking the cheerful, optimistic community of Whoville. He scorns the Christmas season and the boisterous festivities customarily celebrated during the holiday; apparently irritated by the happiness of others and deriving pleasure from spoiling other people's merriment. Aided by his long-suffering pet dog, Max, he disguises himself as Santa Claus and breaks into the Whos' homes to steal their holiday decorations and gifts. Although his plan works, he is infuriated on Christmas morning to find the Whos singing cheerfully despite his actions. Convinced that the holiday must carry a meaning distinct from its decorations and gifts, the Grinch returns and distributes his stolen goods to the Whos, with whom he thereafter celebrates. Nevertheless, the Grinch is still portrayed as a bitter and ill-tempered character in artwork or other media. With the character's anti-holiday spirit followed by the transformation on Christmas morning, scholars have noted similarity to Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. In both the animated TV special and the 2000 live-action film, he is shown to have superhuman strength when he stops an entire sleigh loaded with presents from going over a cliff and lifts it over his head, although he is also described as "[finding] the strength of ten Grinches plus two" during that moment of crisis. Thus, his feat of strength may be akin to an adrenaline rush, as he does not appear to exhibit this ability under normal circumstances.
The Grinch first appeared in the 1957 story How the Grinch Stole Christmas, written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss, published as both a Random House book and in an issue of Redbook magazine. 9 years later in 1966, the story was adapted into a animated television featurette of the same name, which was directed by Charles M. Jones (who was known at this time as Chuck Jones) and which included the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". Boris Karloff serves as both the story's narrator and the voice of the Grinch.
In 1977, Seuss responded to the fan request for more Grinch tales by writing Halloween Is Grinch Night, a Halloween film that aired on ABC, that serves as a prequel to the 1966 film. This was followed in 1982, when Marvel green-lit The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat a TV film starring The Cat in the Hat, also produced by Dr. Seuss (though under his real name, Ted Geisel). Although not as successful as the original, the two films both received Emmy Awards. Several episodes of the 1996 Nick Jr. television show The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss featured the Grinch, this time in puppet form, a rare screen appearance for the character without being animated or illustrated.
A 2000 live-action feature comedy film based on the story, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, was a major financial success, though it received many mixed reviews and holds a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A video game based on the film, simply entitled The Grinch, was released on several consoles and PC in the same year. It was followed in 2007 with the release of a Nintendo DS version that went under the full title of the movie.
The Grinch was portrayed on the stage when the story was turned into a musical by the Children's Theater Company out of Minneapolis. The show made it to Broadway by way of a limited run in 2006, with Patrick Page playing the Grinch.
In television and film, the Grinch has been played or voiced by five actors. For the three animated adaptations, three actors were used: Boris Karloff in the original 1966 short, Hans Conried in Halloween is Grinch Night, and Bob Holt in The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat. (All three of them died shortly after the production of their respective specials and could not reprise the role.) Anthony Asbury portrayed The Grinch in The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, and Jim Carrey did so in the 2000 film adaptation, for which Carrey received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
While the film itself received mixed reviews, Jim Carrey's portrayal of the Grinch received a generally positive response from film critics. Paul Clinton of CNN declared that Carrey "was born to play this role" and noted that "Carrey carries nearly every scene. In fact, if he's not in the scene, there is no scene. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly began his review of the film analyzing the Grinch's "mischievously divided, now-I'm-calm/ now-I'm-a-raving-sarcastic-PSYCH-o! personality" and summed up Carrey's Grinch as "a slobby, self-loathing elitist ruled by the secret fear that he's always being left out of things." Gleiberman expressed surprise at "how affecting [Carrey] makes the Grinch's ultimate big-hearted turnaround, as Carrey the actor sneaks up on Carrey the wild-man dervish. In whichever mode, he carreys [sic] the movie."
Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle proclaimed that "Nobody could play the Grinch better than Jim Carrey, whose rubbery antics and maniacal sense of mischief are so well suited to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Dr. Seuss himself might have turned to Carrey as a model for the classic curmudgeon had the actor been around in 1957." However, he wondered why Carrey "made himself sound like Sean Connery" and warned that the character's intensity may frighten small children. James Berardinelli of ReelViews wrote that Carrey's "off-the-wall performance is reminiscent of what he accomplished in The Mask, except that here he never allows the special effects to upstage him. Carrey's Grinch is a combination of Seuss' creation and Carrey's personality, with a voice that sounds far more like a weird amalgamation of Sean Connery and Jim Backus (Bond meets Magoo!) than it does Karloff." He concluded that Carrey "brings animation to the live action, and, surrounded by glittering, fantastical sets and computer-spun special effects, Carrey enables Ron Howard's version of the classic story to come across as more of a welcome endeavor than a pointless re-tread."
Some reviews were more middling. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon, in a generally negative review of the film, wrote that "Carrey pulls off an admirable impersonation of an animated figure. Behind those sadistic yellowy eyes and that rangy green fur, he gets the facial tics, and the precise, slippery mannerisms, of Jones’ Grinch just right. It’s fine as mimicry goes — but mimicry isn’t the best playground for comic genius. Shouldn’t we be asking more of a man who’s very likely the most gifted comic actor of his generation? Carrey’s rubbery grace marks him as the most physically gifted comedian since Jerry Lewis, and his dotty free associations, here and in just about every picture he’s done, from The Mask to Dumb and Dumber to Me, Myself & Irene, suggest a mind that’s mosquito-zapper quick." She concluded that in spite of "a few terrific ad-libs [...] his jokes come off as nothing more than a desperate effort to inject some offbeat humor into an otherwise numbingly unhip, nonsensical and just plain dull story."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times observed that Carrey "works as hard as an actor has ever worked in a movie, to small avail. He leaps, he tumbles, he contorts, he sneers, he grimaces, he taunts, he flies through the air and tunnels through the garbage mountain, he gets stuck in chimneys and blown up in explosions," but added that Carrey's presence was diminished by his heavy make-up and remarked that "his Grinch, with his pig-snout nose and Mr. Hyde hairdo, looks more like a perverse wolfman than the hero of a comedy." Nevertheless, he decided that "adults may appreciate Carrey's remarkable performance in an intellectual sort of way and give him points for what was obviously a supreme effort." Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote that "Carrey tries out all sorts of intonations, vocal pitches and delivery styles, his tough guy posturing reminding at times of Cagney and his sibilant S's recalling Bogart. His antic gesturing and face-making hit the mark at times, but at other moments seem arbitrary and scattershot. Furthermore, his free-flowing tirades, full of catch-all allusions and references, are pitched for adult appreciation and look destined to sail right over the heads of pre-teens."
- TV Guide Book of Lists. Running Press. 2007. p. 158. ISBN 0-7624-3007-9.
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- Philip Nel (2005). "Dr. Seuss: American Icon". p. 130. Continuum,
- Jacob M. Held (2011). "Dr. Seuss and Philosophy: Oh, the Thinks You Can Think". p. 147. Littlefield Publishers,
- Oscar awards 2001
- "How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- "How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Rotten Tomatoes". Rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- Paul Clinton (November 17, 2000). "Review: Steal away to see the latest 'Grinch'". CNN. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- Owen Gleiberman (November 24, 2000). "How the Grinch Stole Christmas Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- Peter Stack (November 17, 2000). "How Effects Stole 'Christmas' / Supercharged 'Grinch' stays true to Seuss but amps up Carrey's character". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- James Berardinelli (November 17, 2000). "Reelviews Movie Reviews". ReelViews. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- Stephanie Zacharek (November 17, 2000). "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Salon.com. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- Roger Ebert (November 17, 2000). "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas". rogerebert.com. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- Todd McCarthy (November 16, 2000). "Variety Reviews - Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Film Reviews". Variety. Retrieved October 28, 2012.