Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Pratfall-heavy take on holiday tale is fun, mostly gentle.
  • PG
  • 2018
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 65 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 35 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Encourages kids to delve into Dr. Seuss' story, look past the commercialization of holidays, value friendship and community.

Positive Messages

Kindness, compassion, love are true spirit of Christmas. Encourages everyone to be selfless, see the good in friendship and community. Also a message about rejecting the commercialization of Christmas and celebrating love, family, friendship instead. Shows how one person, one moment of kindness, can change even the hardest heart.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cindy Lou loves her mom, wants her mom's life to be easier. She's kind, generous, loving. Meanwhile, Cindy's mom wants to make Christmas special for her kids. Cindy Lou's friends all team up with her to "catch" Santa so he can help. The Grinch starts out isolated and resentful but has a (literal) change of heart during the course of the story.

Violence & Scariness

Lots of pratfalls and physical comedy; characters are frequently catapulted through the air, go speeding on sleds, etc. The Grinch throws stuff at his alarm clock and destroys/decapitates a snow man. He also causes some mild destruction in Whoville. Cindy Lou traps "Santa" (really the Grinch). The Grinch eventually gets hurt (and is in peril at the top of a mountain), characters fall, an animal has to help, and a part of a mountain breaks off.

Sexy Stuff

Nonsexual shot of an undressed Who (a cookie covers his lower half). The Grinch is shown in his underwear.


Language includes "oh, sugar plum," "dumb," "stupid."


Nothing on-screen, but there are lots of offscreen Grinch tie-ins, from apparel to toys and books.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dr. Seuss' The Grinch is an animated adaptation of the classic holiday story, featuring the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as the legendary Christmas curmudgeon. The movie is appropriate for most younger viewers, with many more scenes of physical comedy and pratfalls than genuine peril (though there is a scene in which it looks like the Grinch will fall over a mountain -- but of course he's saved). Expect lots of falls from heights, catapulting through the air, speeding on sleds, etc. The Grinch ends up in his underwear in a brief scene, and a naked Who is seen behind a cookie that's strategically placed to obscure anything inappropriate. Like Seuss' original, this is a story about kindness, compassion, love, and generosity being the true meaning of Christmas.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6-year-old Written byAmasea November 9, 2018

High emotional intelligence retelling of classic tale

In the original, the Grinch was truly mean to Max the dog; in this version they have a much kinder and more mutually enjoyable relationship. All the elements of... Continue reading
Adult Written bysmolkatravel November 10, 2018

The Grinch

Just went to see the movie with 7,9,11 years old. They all enjoyed it very much and they are sensitive viewers. The graphics of the movie were very beautiful bu... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byShowman movie13 June 28, 2019

Good and silly moments

This is a very good movie for kids to watch. I really enjoyed this movie. It will make you want to see it over and over. A brief rude humor of boy hiding his pr... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bykeatonmarcus December 17, 2018

The Grinch: Cute for kids, unbearable for everyone else

The Grinch is exceptionally cute for younger audiences, and has bright animation, but is only sporadically funny, and fails to stand out amongst a cloud of othe... Continue reading

What's the story?

Narrated by Pharrell Williams, DR. SEUSS' THE GRINCH elaborates on Dr. Seuss' classic book about the Christmas-hating Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), who lives above the merry town of Whoville. Down below, the mayor of Whoville (Angela Lansbury) has deemed that Christmas is going to be three times as big as in previous years. So the Grinch decides he's going to ruin everyone's holiday by pretending to be Santa and stealing the entire town's presents and decorations. But adorable little Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely), whose mother, Donna Lou (Rashida Jones), is a hard-working single mom, has a plan of her own: trap Santa and ask him for a very special gift.

Is it any good?

This adaptation is bright, colorful, and occasionally funny, but it doesn't come close to matching the effectiveness of the short-and-sweet original. While Cumberbatch's voice isn't as resonantly deep as Boris Karloff's, his Grinch is believably grumpy, angry, and resentful of Whoville's need for a ginormous Christmas celebration. The Grinch's lovably loyal dog, Max, makes the green meanie a bit more sympathetic, as does the sad backstory that explains his motivations for hating the holiday.

But this isn't only the Grinch's story. It's also Cindy Lou's, as she attempts to convince Santa to grant her selfless wish. To accomplish her goal, there's a subplot involving a group of her friends, a kid-led caper that should appeal to younger audiences. Jones is well cast as a loving mom, and Kenan Thompson adds comic relief as a Whoville resident who misguidedly believes that the Grinch is his pal. For its enduring messages about kindness and love, it's hard to find fault in The Grinch, but it's unlikely to surpass Chuck Jones' famous animated special on the "holiday classics" list.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Dr. Seuss' The Grinch differs from both the beloved made-for-TV classic and the live-action version. Which do you like best? Which seems truest to the original Dr. Seuss book

  • Are there any role models in the movie? If so, who? What character strengths do they display?

  • What is the movie's message about the holidays? How does the Grinch learn those lessons?

  • What are some of your family's holiday traditions? What do you love about them?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Christmas

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

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