Nerds Gets Cheery: You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch in ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’

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For the month of December, Nerds and Beyond staff will be revealing favorite holiday movies to get into the Christmas spirit. One of my all-time favorites has to be How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Not the classic animated one, which I love, and not the newer one, which I haven’t even seen yet. My favorite is definitely Jim Carrey’s 2000 take on the Grinch.

Courtesy of Classic Trailers

I grew up watching the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas cartoon and the live-action Jim Carrey version. Jim Carrey plays the Grinch incredibly well. From his one-liners like mocking Cindy Lou Who after meeting her, saying “The, the, the, the, the Grinch!” to actually getting to know Cindy and going to the Holiday Whobilation (although it doesn’t turn out quite as planned.) This character starts out as a villain, only to be completely warmed by everyone and everything in the end. Since I’m sure most people by now are familiar with Dr. Seuss’ classic Christmas story, I’ll give a very brief description and then go on to actually explain why this should be a traditional holiday movie for families everywhere.

The small, tight-knit town known as Whoville is getting ready to celebrate their favorite holiday: Christmas. Any mention of the Grinch makes everyone freak out. Cindy Lou Who, played by a young Taylor Momsen, is with her father Lou Lou Who (Bill Irwin) at his job, the Whoville Post Office. The Grinch and his dog, Max, sneak into Whoville just to mess things up a little bit. They go to the post office, and the Grinch messes with letters, putting them in different mail slots. Lou gives his daughter some letters and tells her to go into one of the rooms but to watch out for the conveyor belt. The Grinch happens to be in the same room, and he is still caught after hiding on the ceiling when Cindy Lou comes in. “You’re the the…” “the the the the Grinch!” They both scream, and Cindy Lou falls onto the conveyer belt, which has presents being pressed by a huge label machine that is definitely not safe by any means. Cindy Lou screams for help, and the Grinch is about to leave when Max keeps chewing on his clothes, stopping him. The Grinch reluctantly saves Cindy Lou, and when she thanks him, he wraps her up like a Christmas present.

Taylor Momsen and Jim Carrey in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Cindy Lou starts going around Whoville, asking Mayor Augustus May Who (Jeffrey Tambor), Martha May Whovier (Christine Baranski), Whobris (Clint Howard), and the two women who cared for the Grinch growing up who the Grinch is and why he hates Christmas.

Meanwhile, the Grinch stays far from Whoville, only needing Max to keep him company. Cindy Lou convinces Whoville to elect the Grinch as Holiday Cheermeister, saying he’s the Who who needs Christmas cheer the most. “But the Book of Who says this too: ‘No matter how different a Who may appear, he will always be welcome with holiday cheer.'” When Cindy Lou tells the Grinch he’s going to be Holiday Cheermeister, he contemplates for a long while but ultimately decides to go to the Whobilation.

The Whobilation is all fun and games until presents are passed around, and Mayor May Who gives the Grinch a gift that reminds him of his not-so-fun school days and ruins the festivities. The Grinch, deciding that all of Whoville must pay, dresses up as St. Nick (during which a great rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” plays in the background) and makes Max an unofficial reindeer and steals Christmas from Whoville. When The Grinch, or “Santa,” gets to Cindy Lou Who’s house, Cindy Lou wakes up and meets him downstairs. The Grinch makes up a story that one of the lights on the tree went out, so he’s taking the tree up to his workshop to fix it and is bringing it back down when he does.

When Whoville wakes up on Christmas morning, they see all of their decorations, hams, trees, and everything else is gone. They gather around to where the huge tree in Whoville used to be. The Grinch watches as the Whos sing and hold hands. Seeing them get together and spread Christmas cheer, despite not having any presents, decorations, trees, or anything of the like, makes the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes. He decides to return everything. Cindy Lou Who finds him and is on the top of his sleigh, which almost falls off a mountain. The Grinch saves her, and they go down the mountain on the sleigh and arrive in Whoville. The Grinch apologizes, and he’s forgiven. They all stand around the giant tree, singing. They have their Christmas feast with Christmas ham, and all is right.

Jim Carrey and Taylor Momsen in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas can make anyone laugh at scenes like the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who’s first meet or the “light fight” between Betty Lou Who (Molly Shannon) and Martha May Whovier. And before Baby Yoda and Baby Groot, there was Baby Grinch. The lovable Grinch ate a Santa plate when he was just a baby, even then showing his distaste for the jolly guy before he had a hatred for the holiday. “Santa, bye-bye!” The flashbacks to the Grinch in grade school, when he was crushing on Martha and made her a gift, but his class was laughing at him because his shaving job did not do his face justice, makes you feel sorry for him. It shows why and how he started hating Christmas at such a young age. Any scene with the Grinch and Max makes you see that the Grinch at least cares a little bit about someone.

If you had watched this movie for the first time, not knowing who was in it, you probably couldn’t even tell that Jim Carrey was the Grinch. But once you do know, it’s hard not to hear how he makes it his own version: the laugh, the smile, the jokes. If you know Taylor Momsen from The Pretty Reckless or even Gossip Girl, it’s hard to picture her as anything or anyone but. Many people forgot or didn’t know that little Jenny Humphrey from the Upper East Side was little Cindy Lou Who.

This movie is also visually stunning, despite it being released at the beginning of the new millennium. The snowflake at the beginning and end of the film, the entire shot of Whoville, the mountain. It also shows that just because someone may “hate” something doesn’t mean they actually hate it. Only one bad memory of something could completely change their perspective, and they just need a reminder of why it brings people joy. And the movie shows that people can change, even if it initially seems hopeless.

Taylor Momsen and Jim Carrey in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.

I try to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas every year around the holidays. It’s one of my absolute favorite Christmas movies, and it’s an all-around good film to watch with the family. This movie, as well as 2018’s animated The Grinch, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, are both available to stream on Netflix if you want to get into the holiday spirit.

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By Megan
Megan has been passionate about writing since she was little and has been passionate about all things pop culture and nerdy since almost as long. Joining Nerds and Beyond in 2019, she also graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Megan is constantly binge-watching shows and finding new things to obsess over. 9-1-1 and Marvel currently reign as the top obsessions. You can find her on Twitter @marvels911s if you ever want to discuss some certain firefighters.
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