There is only one Grinch worth stealing your Christmas. Forget that overlong abomination starring Jim Carrey in green fur and Ron Howard in the director’s chair. Does anyone need 104 minutes to bring a barely 50 page children’s book to life? Skip that live action adaptation and get the good stuff with Chuck Jones’ animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. This twenty five minute TV special brings the entire book to your eyes with the legendary Boris Karloff (Frankenstein) delivering the voice to the green furry title monster.
The story is simple since it is from a kid’s picture book. The Grinch is a monster that lives on top of a mountain above Who-ville. His only friend is a dog that he abuses. He dreads the coming Christmas holiday since the little Whos are insane about celebrating. They are very noisy and sing all day long. He wants silence. So he plots a way to kill their Christmas spirit. He puts on a Santa suit and steals all the gifts, decorations and food from Who-ville. Can this wicked heist turn the Whos into bitter creatures like the Grinch? Anymore clues would be telling.
This is a perfect Christmas special. Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble’s character designs and backgrounds capture the style of Dr. Seuss. The books comes alive under their paint brushes. Since the special is only 25 minutes long, the story is precise without rambling and grasping at gags to stretch the running time. Boris Karloff has the perfect growl for his devious character. He becomes a different monster than the one created by Dr. Frankenstein. Thurl Ravenscroft’s “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” is iconic without being holiday schmaltz. Forget all the various holiday jingles that get beaten to death on commercials. Thurl’s deep voice as he berates the Grinch is the official start of the Christmas season. This is as much a holiday classic as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rankin-Bass’ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is egg nog with a kick.
The video is 1.33:1 pillarboxed. The Hi-Def transfer is stunning after years of seeing rather rough prints. The snow is the purist white. There’s not a single Who-speck or Who-schmutz on the frame. The TV special never looked this good. The Grinch averages around 25 Mbps. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. The DVD has French and Spanish dubs. The subtitles are in English.
Bonus DVD contains the entire content of the Blu-ray along with a Digital Copy that you can put on your computer or iPod.
Audio Commentary lets animator Phil Roman and voice superstar June Foray remember their time bringing the Grinch to life.
Behind the Story Dr. Seuss and the Grinch from Whoville to Hollywood (15:48) is a documentary that brings rap to the narration for a 50th celebration of the book in 2007. Little kids contribute to the narrative. The “hip” elements don’t interfere with the tale of how Theodor Geisel evolved his artistic style into Dr. Seuss. They link his house in California to the Grinch’s mountain top lair.
TNT’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas Special Edition (19:17) is hosted by the late Phil Hartman. This includes several pencil tests. Tim Burton raves about the character. Chuck Jones explain how the project was developed.
Songs in the Key of Grinch (8:01) lets composer Albert Hague and singer Thurl Ravenscroft discuss the music. Hague played the music teacher on the original Fame. Ravenscroft is beloved as the voice of Tony the Tiger and numerous Disneyland rides.
Grinch Pencil Test are three sketches of how the Grinch would sneak around Who-ville in his Santa disguise.
Song Selections lets you go straight to the four musical moments in the special.
Who’s Who in Whoville? are short biographies of Chuck Jones, Dr. Seuss, Boris Karloff, and June Foray.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is an amazing Blu-ray with a transfer that is pristine. You might fear he’s going to steal your Christmas tree. The bonus features explore the creative genius in both Chuck Jones and Dr. Seuss. The nice part is of this release is getting the new transfer on Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy. No matter where you go this holiday season, you can bring a little Grinch with you. Remember to pick up this How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Blu-ray and not that hideous live action version with Jim Carrey. This is the real Christmas treat. Anyone who gives you the Ron Howard film is a real Grinch.
Warner Home Video presents How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Starring: Boris Karloff, June Foray and Thurl Ravenscroft. Running Time: 25 minutes. Released on Blu-ray: October 6. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Boris Karloff, Christmas, chuck jones, Dr. Seuss, Fame, Jim Carrey