By the time that you read this short essay of
The Grinch will have made ten squintillion more dollars!
The people have spoken! The Grinch is a hit!
So who cares if some critic writes critical crit?
Who cares if I think the film doesn’t
The quality of Seuss’s whimsy and verve?
Who cares if the Whos of this Who-ville all say
That Christmas means presents and dizzy display?
Who cares if they think Christmas comes from a mall
And their hearts — not the Grinch’s — are two sizes too small?
And, speaking of Grinches…
The "Mean One" himself —
Well, he’s not mean. More like a right goofy old elf.
He won’t ever shut up. He’ll clown and he’ll preen.
"You’re not Ace Ventura!" I shout at the screen.
Then a moment — just one — that is really just right:
That great grinchy smile with cheeks pulled back tight.
Then it’s gone. And I’m left with the mugging and pratfalls
And barely restraining my hisses and catcalls.
But who cares if these Whos
aren’t charming or merry
And the Grinch isn’t grouchy or grinchy or scary?
Not Ronnie Howard! And not that Jim Carrey!
The box-office tribute to corporate greed
Is all of the vindication they need.
Now, let’s be quite honest. The real
meaning and glory
Of Christmas was never the point of this story.
Dr. Seuss’s short tale never talked about why
There’s a song in the air or a star in the sky.
And the Chuck Jones cartoon had Whos gathered to sing,
But not of the manger that cradled a King.
But one thing, at least, The Grinch
always made clear
Was that money can never buy holiday cheer.
Now that message is buried in big showy show.
The medium’s the message, and it says: Dough! Dough! Dough!
The Grinch is big bucks! He’s bigger! He’s badder!
And once more we’re all being told: "Size does matter!"
And the story!
No longer does no one know why
The Grinch hates Christmas season. It’s easy as pie:
He grew up in Who-ville, where bullies are mean
To anyone hairy and grinchy and green.
Now, one little Who-girl made his heart beat faster,
But a present he made for her turned to disaster.
The taunting was more than the young Grinch could stand
So he fled to the mountains away from Who-land.
(You’d think, with those Whos such insufferable pills,
There’d be lots more Grinches up there in those hills.)
And that Who-girl, who, by the way, liked the Grinch too,
Has grown up into a voluptuous Who…
And, speaking of which…
Now I’m sure this will go
Right over kids’ heads, but you might like to know
About a Who-party where guests drop car keys
In a glass jar… and that’s all that anyone sees…
The "joke" is that keys in a jar is a "game":
The keys that a man draws out aren’t the same
As the ones that he came with. Nor is the house
That he drives back home to with another man’s spouse.
Now, no kid will know this.
But why is it here?
It seems to suggest something awfully queer
About the filmmakers’ mindset. A sign to steer clear.
Replacing Karloff-ian malice and spite / Cumberbatch-ian grousing makes this one Grinch-lite. / It’s a kinder and gentler tale than we’ve seen / Of course he’s not nice, but this Grinch is less mean.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.