The Third Day of Christmas: How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Cartoon vs. Live Action Movie

By: Kimbit

Ever since it was published in 1957, Theodore Geisel’s (better known as Dr. Suess) book about the Christmas hating Grinch has become a cherished story explaining the true meaning of Christmas.

grinch-meaningYou mean it doesn’t come from boxes and bags?

Less than 10 years after the story was first published it was turned into a short animated movie. At a run time of approximately 26 minutes, the animated movie brought the story to life while maintaining the zany feel of the book and keeping the fun rhymes.

Fast forward over 30 years and the next movie based on the story is created and released in 2000. Adapted into a full length feature by relatively fresh screenplay writing duo Jeffery Price and Peter S. Seaman, the live action version presents a backstory for the Grinch and deeper relationships between the Grinch and the Whos. The film won an Academy Award for Best Makeup (the first feature length Christmas movie to win an Academy Award since 1934!) and was nominated for costume and art direction-set decoration as well.

grinch-musicalIt’s also a musical!

So the question is which is better?

When it comes down to the ratings of the movies the animated version really shines – earning an 8.4 out of 10 (of 33, 187 total reviews) vs. the live action remake’s 6.0 (of 144, 109 total reviews). The discrepancy between the amount of reviewers on each movie make this rating system flawed however. These ratings are taken from the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) which was only created in 1990 much later than the release of the animated version. Many people who may not have liked the animated movie, likely would not go out of their way approximately 25 years later just to review the movie.

In my opinion the live action version is much funnier than the book or the animated movie and this really is a credit to Jim Carrey who plays the Grinch. A lot of the funnier portions of the movie come from fresh material from the screenwriters as well. The humour in the original animated version for me is mostly all from the Grinch’s dog Max who is along for the ride and is just so darn cute. The animated story is closer to the actual source material of the book which is silly mostly in its use of fake rhyming words.

maxThe sled traveled at such a pace
Max thought he’d rest – it isn’t a race
The Grinch said, “Don’t become something I can replace…”
But I mean how could the Grinch, just look at that face!

Another element to consider is the technology used. The animation of the original is quite outdated now, the voices not quite as well synced as they could be. It is hard to compare it to the beautiful makeup, costumes and set decoration of the remake. I still enjoy the outdated animation but a lot of that is due to nostalgic feeling of watching it as a child. The older style of animation also is more comparable to the book’s illustrations for those parents sharing both the book and the movie with their children (or adult discovering both for the first time).

A lot of people say that the remake is never better than the original film. Usually it is because technology allows us to go bigger than before taking out some of the feeling or themes from the original. People who enjoyed the original movie before viewing the remake are most likely to experience this in my opinion because while the remake kept the same story as the original it went much farther beyond that with much extravagance. So for me and many other people (most who were born before 2000) already had a bias going into the remake since we already had enjoyed the original and had preconceived ideas about what parts of that movie were most important to us.

grinch-stole-christmas1The remake definitely nailed the costumes.

Even though I find the remake funnier, prettier and clever in the way it expands upon the story, it is the animated version that I watch every year. I come from a generation that is overly nostalgic and tries to cram so much into little amounts of time. Because of this, the original fits better due to its shorter run time and the childhood memories it invokes. I also suffered from a bias, having already loved the original before seeing the remake.

So which do you love better? Soon we will have a third contender when How the Grinch Stole Christmas is remade again as an updated animation in 2018.


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