When you grow up in a country that experiences neither snow nor Christmas, television specials are the only things that differentiate the 25th of December from any other day. And my enduring memory of Christmas is watching The Grinch every year, without fail. Not the Jim Carrey version, thank you very much; it’s the classic 1966 animated version for me all the way. Faithful to the book in every way except for its colour scheme – Dr. Seuss’s original being more monochromatic – there is a sense of unbridled glee as you watch Whoville prepare for that most wonderful time of year. The artwork is nice and whimsical, if not revolutionary. From the trees to the baubles, the presents to the unending snow, the Whos have the most ideal place to celebrate Christmas all to themselves. In fact, one of the surprises during my first Christmas, as a university student here, was a feeling of disappointment at the general lack of tinsel and lights – and snow – around Nottingham! If anything, the lack of fantastical decor reminded me more of the eponymous villain’s cave.
The three central characters are very entertaining and all for different reasons. The Grinch is the one you love to hate. In all his green bullying glory, he makes the perfect antagonist for a children’s television special. His evil grin is abhorrent – and his eventual post-change of heart puppy eyes are endearing. While he remains the target of our anger for the most part, his four-legged accomplice is the object of our sympathies. Max, constantly bullied and abused by his master, is the dog of our dreams. Who would not want to own an absolutely adorable, tiny ball of fur who would love you despite all the darkness in your soul, even as you dress him up as Rudolph right down to the humiliating giant red nose? As for Little Cindy Lou Who, who nearly changes the Grinch’s mind, she is the definite spiritual precursor to Agnes (of Despicable Me’s “It’s so fluffy!” fame) and Vanellope von Schweetz (from the upcoming Wreck-it Ralph). The best part is that, unlike the live-action version, she actually makes you like her instead of wanting to help the Grinch. And when said live-action Grinch is played by Jim Carrey at his OTT-worst, you know you’ve got the wrong Lou Who.
The narration and music fit the bill perfectly. To this day, my worst insult remains “You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich, with arsenic sauce” from the song “You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch”! Never has vitriol been so poetic come Christmas time. Still, it wouldn’t be a holiday special without a happy ending to finish it off, and the ending here is satisfyingly happy and mushy. And so, welcome Christmas. Bring your cheer. Cheer to all nutters, far and near. Welcome Christmas as we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.