Children’s movies have always had a reputation for sneaking in a couple of jokes for the grown-ups in the room (at least, the good ones have). It’s an act of service to the tired and beleaguered parent who has to sit there and watch the same film 60 times in a row because their three-year-old suddenly has a hyperfixation with Basil the Great Mouse Detective for some reason (sorry, Mum).
Remember that scene in Scooby-Doo (2002) when perpetual stoner archetypes Shaggy and Scooby emerge from their van as smoke billows out from behind them, before it’s revealed that they were just having a barbecue? How about in Cars (2006), when two fans come up to Lightning McQueen and “flash” their headlamps at him? Then there’s the first Toy Story film, where one of Sid’s Frankentoys consists of a woman’s legs attached to a fishing rod (a visual pun meaning “hooker”). And who could forget every single scene in every single Shrek movie?
This year, as I performed my annual rewatch of all my favourite Christmas films (Did Die Hard make the cut? That’s a question for another article), I was surprised by the sheer level of adult humour in one film in particular. Despite having seen it what feels like hundreds of times as a kid, I never realised just how dirty the 2000 Jim Carrey adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas actually is.
Seriously, this film is filthy in places. Most of the dirty humour comes from Christine Baranski’s character, Martha May Whovier, who spends every single scene being extremely horny for the Grinch. There is so much tension between these two you could cut it with one of the Whos’ insane cutting contraptions (Dr Seuss would probably call it a “wibbledy-scoop” or something).
To be clear, this is not a love story – the only thing that exists between these two is raw sexual chemistry. Martha can’t stop talking about how attracted she is to the Grinch’s gross, green, hairy body. Towards the end of the film, the Grinch falls straight into her chest, face first. I’ll say this – the Grinch’s heart wasn’t the only thing that grew three sizes that day.
But the standout scene comes about 25 minutes into the film, when we see a flashback to the Grinch’s childhood. In a scene that explains the Grinch’s origins, wherein he is accidentally brought to Whoville via a “strange wind”, a baby Grinch lands outside a house where the occupants are having an honest-to-goodness key party. That’s right, there are swingers in Whoville!
It’s also worth noting that earlier in that same scene, we get a glimpse of a successful delivery when a male Who finds a baby on his doorstep, and shouts to his wife: “He looks just like your boss.” These chipmunk-looking creatures simply cannot stop themselves from getting down and dirty.
I guess it isn’t too surprising that a Grinch film would end up being filthy. “Grinch” is one of those words that sort of sounds dirty out of context, whether you’re using it as a noun, verb or adjective.
Honestly, though, it’s a nice change of pace. Christmas movies have a reputation for being overly saccharine, so it’s nice to cut through the treacle with something a little spicier. If you haven’t seen it before, try to work it into your annual Christmas movie rotation this year. Just make sure to plead ignorance if your kids ask why you’re laughing so hard at the jokes they don’t understand.
And if you think I’m getting too worked up about a harmless children’s movie from 23 years ago? Well, pucker up and kiss it (as the Grinch would say).
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