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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Various
Writing Credits:
Dr. Seuss (characters), Various

Synopsis:
Fun is on the Loose with 3 Dr. Seuss Holiday Classics!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: “Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot.” And every family likes How the Grinch Stole Christmas! a lot! This joyous, heart-tickling holiday event based on Dr. Seuss’ beloved book and featuring the voice of Boris Karloff has delighted all ages since its 1966 debut. Can the Grinch steal the town’s holiday spirit by stealing their holiday treats? Or does Christmas ... perhaps ... mean a little bit more? The answers to those questions unfold charmingly under Chuck Jones’ pitch-perfect direction.

The Grinch Grinches The Cat in the Hat: What happens when the mischievous Grinch decides to wreak havoc on the world, but the happy and ever-so-delightful Cat in the Hat stands in his way? The result is a triumphant story of an unlikely hero who uses a little caring and compassion to help save the world from an unfriendly and unbeautiful future. Watch and see if the Cat in the Hat can go from a peaceful picnic in the shade to helping the frightfully mean Grinch turn a new leaf.

Halloween is Grinch Night: The sinister Grinch who stole Whoville’s Christmas is back to declare Halloween as “Grinch Night”! While the Whos are caught in a horrible storm of Sour-Sweet Wind, the Grinch and his trusty pooch Max, take this opportunity to terrorize the little town. Unfortunately for him he is surprised by a young boy whose unexpected courage prevents the Grinch from unleashing his awful horrors onto their tranquil town. Grinch Night will never be the same!

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio:
English Monaural
French Monaural (Grinches and Halloween Only)
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 75 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 10/18/2011

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary from Animator Phil Roman and Voice Actor June Foray
• “Dr. Seuss and the Grinch: From Whoville to Hollywood” Documentary
• “Songs in the Key of Grinch” Featurette
• “Who’s Who in Whoville” Biographies
• Song Selections
• TNT Special
• Pencil Tests
• Trailers


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Dr. Seuss's Holidays On The Loose (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 31, 2011)

We get a new compilation of TV specials via 2011’s Dr. Seuss’s Holidays On the Loose. It packages three shows into one place. All have been available previously.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (25:40):

When the name "Chuck Jones" pops up, I'd bet that most people immediately think of Looney Tunes cartoons. After all, that's where he made his claim to fame, and I believe that most people would associate him with that material.

However, I'd also bet that no individual Looney Tunes cartoon qualifies as Jones' most well-known and most watched piece of work. That honor almost certainly falls to the classic TV special that he produced, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. How many skillions of people have seen that sucker since it first aired in 1966? Many, many skillions, I'd guess, and that's a lot!

Of course, since the formal title of this program is actually Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Jones is overshadowed in this work by the prominence of another. Actually, we should make that others, since lead voice actor Boris Karloff would receive higher billing than Jones.

But make no mistake about it. While Seuss' story and Karloff's vocal certainly contribute in no small part to the success of this program, it's Jones' wonderful and evocative animation that carries the day. It's not technically very slick - after all, this project was produced for television, a medium that doesn't offer a budget to allow an animator to perform to the best of his abilities - but it helps capture the spirit of the project and brings it nicely to life. Yes, more fluid animation would have been good, but the heart of the Dr. Seuss story comes through and works very well.

I must admit that while I like The Grinch, it's not really one of my favorite Christmas specials. Rudolph, Charlie Brown and The Year Without a Santa Claus are all above it in my opinion. Nonetheless, The Grinch deserves its status as a Christmas classic and will continue to be watched by skillions for years to come.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio C/ Bonus B

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For this release of Grinch, they got it right.

Sharpness seemed solid. No issues with delineation ever arose in this tight and concise presentation. I also failed to detect any signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. The disc came almost totally free from source flaws. Other than a couple of small specks, the show looked very clean.

Colors excelled. The program offered a lot of bright primary hues and reproduced them well. These were tight and lively at all times. Blacks seemed dense and firm, while shadows looked clear and appropriate. Overall, I found much to like in this terrific presentation.

The monaural audio of Grinch was less pleasing. Music consistently sounded clean and reasonably vibrant; low end was lacking, but the general tone seemed fair. Both dialogue and effects were decent but usually flat and blah; there's a plainness to them that lacked treble and crispness. Boris Karloff’s narration sounded especially distant and wasn’t particularly natural. The Grinch audio seemed acceptable for material from the Sixties, but don’t expect much from them.

This DVD replicates the 2008 Deluxe Edition. Dr. Seuss and the Grinch: From Whoville to Hollywood runs 15 minutes, 42 seconds as it mixes program clips, archival materials and interviews. We hear from author Kathleen Krull, “The Art of Dr. Seuss” curator Bill Dreyer, widows Audrey Geisel and Marian Jones, Dr. Seuss Rhymes and Reasons author Peter Jones, animation producer Paul Dini, and Seuss’ stepdaughter Lark Dimond-Cates. The show offers notes about Dr. Seuss’s life and career as well as info about his creations. We also learn a little about the TV adaptation of Grinch.

Some good details pop up here, though the format grates. In addition to lots of extraneous comments from various cute moppets, narration comes in the form of a dreadful rap tune. The show’s worth the look, but that rap makes me want to smash my TV.

A glorified form of chapter search, Song Selections lets you jump straight to any of the show's four tunes ("Opening Song", "Trim Up the Tree", "Welcome, Christmas", and "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch"). There’s also a “Play All” option to allow you to check out all four in sequence.

Pencil Test provides three sketches of the Grinch, while Who's Who In Whoville gives us brief biographies of director Chuck Jones, writer Dr. Seuss, and actors Boris Karloff and June Foray.

Next we find a TNT special about How the Grinch Stole Christmas that lasts 19 minutes and 15 seconds. Hosted by Phil Hartman, this 1995 program provides an excessively-cutesy but generally solid overview of The Grinch. We see then-new interviews with Chuck Jones, Dr. Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" singer Thurl Ravenscroft, song composer Albert Hague, Grinch fans Tim Burton and Danny Elfman plus bits from Hartman and some archival footage from the production. In addition to his narration that connects the other segments and relates the story's history, Hartman offers "demonstrations" of animation technique and other aspects of filmmaking that are likely unknown to most of the public but will be very basic to more knowledgeable movie fans. Anyway, the show's clearly oriented toward a younger crowd, but it's a fairly fun and mildly informative piece.

Entitled Songs In the Key of Grinch, the next piece offers a collection of additional interviews with Hague and Ravenscroft. In these eight minutes worth of clips - which do not appear to be outtakes from the prior special - we learn a little more about their careers and their involvement in Grinch. It's a nice little addition to the material in the longer show.

We also get an audio commentary from animator Phil Roman and voice actor June Foray. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. Since the show only lasts 26 minutes, there's not a whole lot of depth to their comments. Frankly it's a disappointment the track doesn't feature Jones instead, but I found this piece to be generally enjoyable. Roman provides the most actual information, although Foray chimes in with some solid historical perspective as well. It's not a great commentary, but it's a nice addition that deserves a listen.

A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the “Classic Christmas Favorites” collection. In addition, the disc includes trailers for Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, Jack Frost, The Polar Express and Fred Claus.

The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat (24:17):

In this 1982 special, the Grinch (voiced by Bob Holt) wakes up in a good mood for once. However, his inner Grinch reminds him that he’s not supposed to be cheerful, so the Grinch sets out to be as Grinchy as possible.

At the same time, the Cat in the Hat (Mason Adams) decides to picnic. He parks his car in a way that blocks traffic and makes the Grinch even angrier. Determined to get back at the Cat, the Grinch uses a device that manipulates sound however he desires. We watch as the Grinch torments his feline foe – and works toward his inevitable change of heart.

On the surface, the notion of a crossover between the two most famous Dr. Seuss characters sounds fun – and Grinches could’ve been entertaining. However, the special suffers from such consistently bland execution that any potential pleasure gets buried beneath the rampant mediocrity.

Not that this makes it a bad show, as it offers a perfectly tolerable 24 minutes. It just never threatens to be anything more than “kinda sorta okay”. The vocal performances are passable, the songs are decent, and the pacing is workable.

And that’s all. The show keeps you with it to a minor degree but you never feel much investment in it. The Grinch/Cat dynamic fails to ignite any sparks, and little about the piece demonstrates the cleverness and wit we expect from a Dr. Seuss work. This ends up as an entirely mediocre special.


The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio C-/ Bonus D-

The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though the original Grinch special got a nice restoration, no such visual pleasures appear here.

Sharpness was a constant problem, as the show always looked soft. Close-ups occasionally demonstrated some decent definition, but never more than that, and the majority of the special was fuzzy and without good clarity. I noticed no jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes were absent. Though the special didn’t suffer from source flaws like specks and marks, it came with a streaky, blocky look that consistently marred the presentation.

Despite the show’s broad palette, Grinces delivered a muddy sense of colors. The hues tended to be dense and unappealing, without vivacity or life. Blacks were flat and inky, while shadows seemed mediocre. This was a totally bland presentation without any real strengths.

Don’t expect notable improvements from the show’s monaural soundtrack, though at least it lacked prominent flaws. Speech was a little thin but seemed reasonably natural and concise; no edginess or issues interfered with dialogue.

Music was similarly clean but lackluster. The score and songs came with acceptably clarity but they didn’t deliver any life or vivacity. The same issue affected the bland effects; while these were decent, they failed to provide any punch. All of this was good enough for a mediocre “C-”.

The disc opens with ads for Santa’s Magical Stories and The Peanuts Holiday Collection. We also find a trailer for Happiness Is… Peanuts Snow Days. No other extras accompany Grinches or Halloween.

Halloween Is Grinch Night (24:56):

From 1977, Halloween finds a “sour-sweet wind” across Whoville. This portends the return of the Grinch (voiced by Hans Conreid) and sends the Whos into hiding. We watch as the Grinch wreaks his own form of havoc – and encounters a lost young Who named Ukaraiah (Gary Shapiro).

After the limp Grinches, I didn’t expect much from Halloween. Happily, it delivers a much more vivid tale – and feels substantially more in line with the tone and attitude of the original program versus the dishwater dull Grinches.

Some of that comes from the cast. Conreid presents a much better substitute for Boris Karloff as the lead character. Unlike Bob Holt, Conreid doesn’t attempt to impersonate Karloff; he uses a mild variation on his usual acting voice. And that’s fine with me. I don’t think that Conreid needs to emulate the original, and he possesses enough vocal similarities that the casting change doesn’t seem jarring. Conreid gives the Grinch all the appropriate sense of malice and mischief; he helps bring real life to the show.

The special simply seems more “Seussian” as well. It features a nice visual sense and comes across as surprisingly cinematic; director Gerald Baldwin gives us some nice cuts and wipes that allow the show to feel like something more than a cheap piece of TV product. It may not have quite the coherence of the original, but it comes with an energy that suits the subject matter.

Does Halloween equal the pleasures of the original show? No, but it comes much closerthan anyone had a right to expect. It’s a worthwhile sequel – and one free of the sappy moralizing that marred Grinches.


The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio C+/ Bonus D-

Halloween Is Grinch Night appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This one didn’t look as good as the original, but at least it improved over the mushy Grinches.

Sharpness was decent to good. Though the show never came across as especially concise, it also lacked notable softness; it didn’t leap off the screen, but it offered acceptable definition. I didn’t see any moiré effects or jaggies, and print flaws were minor. Most of the problems came from some sloppy clean-up animation, as those resulted in occasional specks and marks. No other notable issues arose.

Colors lacked much pop and tended to seem a bit heavy. These weren’t terribly problematic, though, as they demonstrated acceptable range most of the time. Blacks were reasonably dark, and shadows offered passable clarity. Nothing here impressed, but I thought the image was perfectly watchable.

The show’s monaural soundtrack wasn’t exceptional, but it delivered more pep than Grinches. Speech could be a bit trebly, but the lines lacked roughness and remained easily intelligible. Music also failed to provide great impact, but the score and songs showed fair to good clarity. The same went for the effects; though not particularly dynamic, they gave us reasonable accuracy. This was a more than acceptable track for a 34-year-old TV special.

The disc opens with ads for Santa’s Magical Stories and The Peanuts Holiday Collection. We also find a trailer for Happiness Is… Peanuts Snow Days. No other extras accompany Grinches or Halloween.

Among the three TV specials found on Dr. Seuss’s Holidays on the Loose, we get one classic, one pretty good show, and one dud. That’s still a good batting average, so the two-DVD set offers reasonable value – unless you already own one of the 853 prior releases of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Then it becomes less worthwhile, as The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat and Halloween Is Grinch Night aren’t good enough to merit purchase otherwise, especially since the DVD does little to present them with strong picture or audio. If you don’t already own the original Grinch and you love the character, this set’s worth a look, though I’d be more ready to endorse it with a lower list price; $26.98 seems a little steep for three short holiday specials.

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main