An ode to How the Grinch Stole Christmas


By Leah Martindale, Film & TV Editor

With Christmas coming quickly on the horizon, there is only one film that can seriously be considered as the best: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).

The film has everything. From aesthetics that wholly embody the spectrum of organic to corporate images of the holidays, to a message that encompasses the spirit of Christmas, there is no film with The Grinch’s range.

Jim Carrey and Kelley the dog are the best of 'frenemies' | IMDb / Getty Images

From the outset, it may seem that the film rests on the laurels of its protagonist, Jim Carrey as the Grinch. His trademarked high-spirited comedy is only enhanced by the inches-thick prosthetics caked masterfully over him. His facial, vocal, and physical movement is bordering on genius, capturing the spirit of a playfully mean-spirited anti-hero with every second onscreen.

The script is exceptional, chock full of equally memorable and memeable lines

The rest of the cast bolster his performance spectacularly, though. The Pretty Reckless’ Taylor Momsen plays Cindy Lou Who at the progenous age of seven, and exercised her now famous voice in the recording of ‘Christmas, Why Can’t I Find You?’ for the film’s soundtrack. The all-knowing whiny child act always aggravates me at best, but Momsen’s performance is perhaps the least annoying.

Mamma Mia! (2008) and Chicago (2002) star Christine Baranski plays the impossibly attractive love-interest Martha May Whovier, and Jeffrey Tambor’s performance as Mayor Augustus Maywho is skin-crawlingly slimy in the best possible way. One of the best performances of the piece, however, has to go to the guilelessly charming Kelley the dog, as Max.

Make-up artist Bart Mixon affixes a mask on top of his masterful Jim Carrey makeup | IMDb / Universal Pictures

The film is the middle of three widely known iterations of Dr. Suess’ iconic children's tale: the others being How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) and Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018), starring Benedict Cumberbatch, of Sherlock (2010-) fame, in an uncharacteristically light role as the titular Grinch. Both of these versions are animated, in contrast to 2000’s vivid and vibrant live-action magic - which is where they both inevitably lose out.

The 2018 soundtrack pops - it’s undeniable. Tyler, the Creator, Run-D.M.C, Nat King Cole… the list goes on and on. The 2000 soundtrack has less notable names and a more traditional energy, which makes it less energising but also makes it a far more family friendly Christmas dinner soundtrack if you have any particularly hard-of-hearing or high-temperament grandparents around the table.

The film really comes to life due to the work of the unspoken heroes: production designer Michael Corenblith and costume designer Rita Ryack, and the 156 individually credited members of the makeup department.

The fantasy and wonderment of Dr. Seuss’ creation could never come to life like it did without the tireless work of countless professionals; more than that, artists. The film most deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.

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The script is exceptional, chock full of equally memorable and memeable lines; from the Jim Carrey improvisation ‘6:30 p.m. Dinner with me. I can't cancel that again.’ to ‘Nice kid… baaad judge of character.’, the film is hilarious from start to finish. It is impossible to watch without laughing, and most likely crying too.

The Grinch finally prevails with the help of - cheesy alert - the love of the Whos of Whoville | IMDb / Getty Images

The moral of the film is clear: treat others how we wish to be treated. The Grinch, the Whos, and the audience all learn together. The real hero of the story is the story itself. Dr. Suess’ infamous imagination takes the meaning of Christmas, of acceptance and family and love, and ramps it up to the next level.

The film really comes to life due to the work of the unspoken heroes

Throw in two swinging adoptive mothers, a whole host of adult jokes I only fully understood on post-adolescent rewatching, and a fully-crafted universe we would all like to live inside for a snowflake day or two, and it is only fair that How the Grinch Stole Christmas reigns supreme as the king of all Christmas films.

Featured: IMDb / Getty Images Archive Photos

Could you possibly disagree that How the Grinch Stole Christmas is not the top tier of Christmas cinema?


Leah Martindale

Part-time Film & Television MA student; full-time Instagram storier, and ABBA enthusiast; amateur film critic. Can always be found writing from bed.