The Mean One (2022): A Not So Jolly Green Giant Pile of Boredom

“The Mean One” is directed by Steven LaMorte and stars David Howard Thornton, Krystle Martin, Chase Mullins, John Bigham, Erik Baker, Flip Kobler, and Amy Schumacher in a violent, bloody adaptation of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.” Cindy, who had her Christmas stolen by the Mean One during her childhood, attempts to stop the monster once and for all, even if it makes her look crazy.

If you put Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and “The Mean One” side by side, if the latter were not clearly a parody, a copyright lawsuit would come as quick as a blue hedgehog. But if you look at the titular green monster on the film’s poster, tell me he does not look almost exactly like Dr. Seuss’s Grinch. Gosh golly! While a number of things have changed between one story to the next, the Grinch design is about as faithful as can be. But while there may be faithfulness, I can assure you the original story did not have anywhere near as much goriness. Sure, in some ways it might be less happy go lucky compared to other Christmas classics, but it is something that younger audiences can watch and enjoy. Between “The Mean One” and “Violent Night,” which I recently reviewed, if you wanted more dark, unhinged Christmas movies, then 2022 is your year.

Unfortunately, “The Mean One” is no “Violent Night.” Whereas “Violent Night,” despite some supposed originality, pays tribute to other films like “Die Hard” and “Home Alone,” “The Mean One” not only looks like an eyesore, it is written like an ear infection. Despite having numerous moments of satire or attempts at humor, the comedy in “The Mean One” is not funny. Whether it was trying to do a Seuss-style rhyme, or whether the mayor was promoting herself all the time. I did not like the comedy in any way, not yesterday, not tomorrow, and definitely not today.

Although to be fair, “The Mean One” is not primarily a comedy. It is above all, a horror movie. It makes sense after all given the levels of blood and violence this movie racks up by the end of it. Unfortunately, it is not scary. Not one bit. I watched this film in a movie theater and I barely recall jumping or even shuddering. I have said that horror is by far kicking every other genre’s butt this year with movies like “Smile” and “Barbarian.” I cannot say the same for “The Mean One,” where the greenest thing about this movie is its titular character, and definitely not the amount of money they spent on making it.

I want to be fair to “The Mean One” because the film does look like something made for a media production class with some last minute finishing details that were not quite up to par. While I have not found the budget for “The Mean One,” it definitely seems to be lower than say Illumination Entertainment’s recent adaptation, “The Grinch.” That film was made for $75 million whereas “The Mean One” was probably made for the combined cost of the frozen food items found in a single Dollar Tree. With that in mind, “The Mean One” nevertheless looks inexcusably bad. The color grading is the worst I have seen this year. There are moments of this film that are so blue that I thought the Smurfs were going to show up at some point. It is one thing if this film looked greener than the Matrix, that actually would have looked fine, or at the very least, had a “so bad it is good” effect to it. There are scenes that are so blue that it turned my movie theater recliner into a bed and made me want to fall asleep.

Despite labeling itself as a parody, it is difficult to confirm that this film actually is one. Because the film is a parody when taking the titular green monster into perspective. Anytime David Howard Thornton plays this creature, he delivers a whiff of goofiness while doing so. Few, if any of the other performances match David Howard Thornton’s intentions to blast the campiness of the film up to an 11. The good news is that I can say David Howard Thornton may be the best part of this movie, the bad news is that none of the other actors, as much as they try, match up to his caliber. Part of it may be the directing. Steven LaMorte may have told David Howard Thornton to be the fool and everyone else is comparatively down to earth. In “Star Wars” terminology, The Mean One is Jar Jar Binks and everyone else is probably living somewhere on Tatooine. Although this time around I actually had fun watching Jar Jar Binks…

In regards to other performances, The narration, which is not terribly written, sounds great. Christopher Sanders does a great job with the material given to him as the narrator. His voice is spooky and menacing, just the way I would want it to sound. The script for “The Mean One” is not going to be in the hall of fame, but what Sanders did here makes the narration at the least feel competent.

Once again, I know this film did not cost as much as a Marvel movie, but when you decide to release a film theatrically, I then decide to treat it like a film getting such a release. With that in mind, “The Mean One” looks like it belongs on basic cable. At times I would say that “Sharknado” almost looks better than this movie. Although I will give “The Mean One” credit, despite what I said about the comedy, I believe I laughed more while watching “The Mean One” than I did watching “Sharknado.” I cannot pinpoint the specifics as to why I laughed. This movie is as forgettable as expired coupons in a glovebox. However, despite this movie being a disaster in more ways than one, there were some shining glimmers within the filthy mess.

There are other positives in regards to “The Mean One.” The costumes and makeup do not look half-bad. Some of the sets are decent. But there are not many others that come to mind. As little fun as I had watching Illumination’s adaptation of “The Grinch” a few years ago, I will give credit to the film’s polish and tendency to look like it was at least going to entertain younger audiences. I think that film tries way too hard to entertain younger people while ignoring the parents and guardians who are going to be dragged in front of the screen. Sadly, as an adult, a demographic which “The Mean One” seems to cater to a lot more, I am not entertained. “The Grinch” may be fun for children, whereas “The Mean One” seems to be fun neither for children or adults. I do not drink, so I do not know if this film is going to be fun to watch while having a few beers with friends, but if a friend invites me over to watch this movie with them, I would politely decline.

In the end, “The Mean One” fails on a number of levels. Not only is it not funny, but it is not scary. Nothing is worse when you have a comedy that is not funny or a horror movie that is not scary. Except for when you combine comedy and horror together and it does neither aspect well. If you want a great movie to watch from this year that does both aspects brilliantly, go watch “The Menu.” It has better acting, better directing, better writing, and more pleasing production value. If you like campy horror, “The Mean One” might be serviceable, but I did not enjoy it myself so who knows if someone else reading this will. I am going to give “The Mean One” a 2/10.

“The Mean One” stole my holiday. I am in such a state of disarray. I do not want to see it in bed. I do not want to see it when I am dead. This movie is such a disappointment. I might need to make a doctor’s appointment. I do not want to watch this in an auditorium. It might cause me break out into pandemonium. This movie made me mad. Still talking about it makes me sad. I do not want to find this on streaming. I will end up shutting off the TV screaming. This is one of my least favorite movies of the year. When the end credits ultimately showed up I wanted to cheer. Those are my thoughts on “The Mean One.” Thank goodness, this review is finally done!

“The Mean One” is now playing in select theatres, supposedly for a limited time. If you really want a ticket to this movie, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want me to be serious, it is kind of sad to review movies like this because I imagine like a lot of movies, some serious passion was put into it. But if I had to be real, this makes even Illumination’s “The Grinch” look like “Home Alone,” a movie I adore on every level. I could never watch “The Mean One” again.

Stay tuned later this week because I will be sharing my thoughts on the brand new blockbuster sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water!” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Mean One?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a Christmas or holiday movie that you truly despise? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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