It’s hard to imagine a more perfect adaptation of a Dr. Seuss story than the 1966 Chuck Jones feature; perhaps, “The Butter Battle Book.” In either case, I was one of the many children that grew up watching the TV version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It’s such a wonderful combination of talents and rich enthusiasm for the source material, that it’s tough to not like it. There’s Boris Karloff, Chuck Jones, and Dr. Seuss, not to mention the perfectly simplistic tale about anti-materialism and the true meaning of Christmas.
Karloff is superb as the titular Grinch, a mean green monster who lives in his cave in a mountain with his put upon dog. He is angered at the town of Whoville that is constantly awash in celebration and is now in the midst of welcoming Christmas. The Grinch has a plan to destroy their Christmas by dressing as Santa and stealing their entire Christmas supply, including presents and their feast. Convinced they value the possessions over the holiday, he seeks ultimate revenge with an elaborate plot. There’s also some excellent musical numbers that elaborate on the tale, without ever ruining the momentum of the story. It’s one of the few liberties taken that works wonders.
Chuck Jones’ animation is timeless and perfectly captures the spirit of the book’s art style while also very much representative of Chuck Jones’ animation style. Karloff’s performance as the Grinch is pitch perfect with just the right amount of menace to make him a villain fit for the Seussian world. I can’t imagine a better fit for the Grinch, whose morals and purpose in the story is based around the idea of misperception about the idea behind the holiday, and what it means for the Whos in Whoville. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is still such a wonderful, funny, and meaningful adaptation of the original book, and one of the rare takes on Dr. Seuss’ work that actually understands what the author was trying to convey to his audience. It’s an immortal tale that will never overstay its welcome on Christmas.