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Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!(TV) (1966)
This joyous, heart-tickling holiday event based on Dr. Seuss' beloved book and featuring the voice of Boris Karloff has delighted viewers of all ages since its 1966 debut. The fun begins when the grumpy, grouchy, Yule-hating Grinch plots to ruin the Who's Christmas. Can he steal their holiday spirit by stealing their holiday treats? Or does Christmas...perhaps...mean a little bit more?
For more about Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and the Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Blu-ray release, see Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 9, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Directors: Chuck Jones, Ben Washam
Writers: Dr. Seuss, Bob Ogle, Irv Spector
Starring: Boris Karloff, June Foray, Thurl Ravenscroft, Dal McKennon
» See full cast & crew
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Blu-ray Review
"But this... this sound wasn't sad. Why... this sound sounded glad!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 9, 2009
The name Theodor Geisel may not mean anything to you, but chances are the name Dr. Seuss does. Born Theodor Seuss Geisel, the acclaimed author and illustrator published more than sixty best-selling stories, introduced his young readers to countless creatures and numerous worlds, and continues, posthumously, to sell millions of books around the world. Identifying Seuss' most popular, most influential tale is next to impossible, but candidates include "Green Eggs and Ham," "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish," "The Cat in the Hat" and, of course, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," a not-so-subtly veiled evisceration of consumerism that was granted immortality in 1966 when Chuck Jones' animated television special first captured hearts and imaginations everywhere. But Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas isn't just a charming holiday classic, it's an unforgettable treat that teaches children to cherish family and friends above all else. It isn't just a yuletide staple, it's a smartly written, sharply narrated, wonderfully conceived animated masterpiece.
The residents of Whoville -- a small town brimming with laughter, goodwill, and cheer -- adore Christmas and everything it represents. But the sinister Grinch, a grouchy green creature who lives in a mountaintop cave overlooking the town, does not. He hates all the noise, presents, celebrations, parties... everything. So much so that, in a fit of maniacal glee, he decides to sneak into Whoville one night and steal every stocking, light, package, bow, and sliver of tinsel he can find. Dressed as St. Nick, he carries out his devilish plan with startling efficiency, robbing the town of everything that has anything to do with Christmas. It all goes according to plan (aside from a mid-looting encounter with a young girl named Cindy Lou) until the Grinch suddenly hears a sound he never expected: singing. It didn't occurr to him that their joy was about the season, not their various rituals and dinners. As his heart begins to grow and he feels his first compassion, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas transforms from a television special into a quintessential holiday gem; an unexpectedly pointed tour de force that's as meaningful today as it was when it first aired forty-three years ago.
I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for Christmas. I haven't had a Scroogian slip or a Grinchian gripe in my life, nor do I flip the channel when It's a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story come on for the forty-seventh time. As a result, heartfelt gifts like Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas are among my favorite holiday films. It not only features the rich, expressive animation of the late, great Chuck Jones, it boasts one of Seuss' finest works. The story itself touches on the dangers of consumerism, explores the nature of human compassion and goodwill, and allows its green-skinned antagonist the opportunity to step in for anyone who's ever grumbled beneath the mistletoe. It helps that it's so genuinely entertaining. From Boris Karloff's pitch-perfect narration and voicework to the Grinch's comical journeys to and from Whoville, Jones and co-director Ben Washam reproduce the very heart and soul of Seuss' tale. Their adherence to the original text, as well as the wisdom they applied when adding elements into the mix, is a godsend; they allow Seuss' book to stand on its own merits and the film is better for it.
Will modern viewers appreciate everything Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas has to offer? With more than forty years under its belt, it's certainly showing it's age... at least when it comes to the condition of its animation cells. Otherwise, the story, pacing, comedy, message, emotional undercurrent, and the animation itself is just as powerful today as it ever was. Even those who would normally tune out a '60s cartoon after two minutes will slowly sink into the world of the Whos, laughing as the Grinch and his dog hurtle down a mountain, tightening their lips when Cindy Lou encounters a thieving St. Nick, and smiling when the beast's heart finally blooms. As much as I love Christmas, there aren't many holiday films I can watch again and again (It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story being two obvious exceptions). How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one of them. Be sure to grab a copy and share it with your family this holiday season.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Blu-ray, Video Quality
Much has already been written about the Blu-ray edition of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the sudden influx of bright, lime-green fur that accompanies its every frame -- a point of contention for purists, especially those relying on screenshot comparisons that reveal how brown the Grinch had become in television broadcasts and home video releases over the years -- but the television special's original animation cells prove Warner's 1080p/VC-1 transfer is a faithful representation of its animators' choices and intentions. Colors are rich and rewarding (yep, even the greens), blacks are suitably inky, contrast is gorgeous, and Chuck Jones' lineart is crisper than it's ever been. Yes, print damage, wavering color fills, and background anomalies are ongoing distractions (as they are in any forty-year-old animated production), but inconsistencies and eyesores such as these should be attributed to the film's original animation cells and print, not Warner's technical transfer. In fact, I only encountered one technical issue: some rather negligible artifacts shudder into view on occasion. It isn't a debilitating problem by any means, but it is one that holds the presentation back from perfection. All things considered, the young at heart (at least those with appropriate expectations) will thoroughly enjoy Warner's efforts.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas arrives alongside A Charlie Brown Christmas and Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!, and all three suffer strikingly similar sonic fates. Instead of offering lossless stereo mixes, Warner has simply repurposed the 192kbps Dolby Digital stereo tracks that appear on the animated specials' standard DVD counterparts. The tracks are passable and, considering their age and condition, altogether serviceable, but wavering music, at-times muffled voices, and background hiss are frequent issues. Though they'll undoubtedly earn a free pass from nostalgic fans focused on the cartoons' humble productions -- perhaps rightfully so -- I wanted more. A lossless stereo track, a more extensive audio restoration... something. Anything more than recycled mixes from previously released DVDs. No, its meager audio offering shouldn't prevent anyone from purchasing How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but it certainly won't leave a lasting impression.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 2-disc Blu-ray edition of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas offers fans a solid audio commentary, but flounders with a pile of archaic special features that, quite frankly, go nowhere. Considering the relatively steep cost of this release, I expected much more. Slipcover enthusiasts will also be infuriated -- the box is covered with loose glitter that will quickly find its way onto their hands and shelves.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It may be more than forty-years old, but Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas continues to delight viewers of all ages. With a seemingly simple tale at its center and a memorable narrator at the helm, Jones' animated special is a true holiday classic. The Blu-ray edition stumbles a bit with a lossy Dolby Digital stereo track and a superficial supplemental package, but more than makes up for such shortcomings with a striking video transfer. Its price point is a bit steep, but nostalgic fans and kids, young and old, will be pleased with its high definition debut.
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