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How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Movie Poster Image
Live-action take on classic has some crude, scary moments.
  • PG
  • 2000
  • 105 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 50 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Encourages kids to further explore the world of Dr. Seuss and promotes solid values in an engaging way.

Positive Messages

In addition to its message about rejecting the commercialization of Christmas and celebrating love, family, and gratefulness, the film also shows how even the smallest kindness can change the hardest heart. The Grinch's behavior and hatred of Christmas is revealed to be the result of childhood bullying and cruelty.   

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cindy Lou, the very young heroine, is willing to face the hostility of all in Whoville in order to stand up for what is right; she teaches everyone about generosity, kindness, and compassion. Her parents, embarrassed at first, later risk censure to support her. The town mayor is bumbling and wrong-headed. Only a sprinkling of villagers of color.


Violence & Scariness

Continuous accelerated, cartoon action. There are fires (one started by a flame-thrower), explosions, falls, many wild rides, crashes, and characters (particularly a little girl) teetering on the brink of disaster. No one is injured or killed. In many scenes the Grinch is menacing, contorting his face and body (one shot shows insects crawling between his teeth), cackling, chewing glass, and wreaking havoc on the town of Whoville.

Sexy Stuff

A married couple exchanges a comic, exaggerated kiss. Innuendo regarding a woman with cleavage.


A few curses: "hell," "bitchin'." The Grinch angrily turns his butt to camera and says, "Pucker up and kiss it, Whoville."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that How the Grinch Stole Christmas is an imaginative version of Dr. Seuss' beloved classic picture book, but it may be too intense and scary for the youngest or most sensitive kids. Ominous music accompanies the Grinch and his cartoon trouble making in multiple scenes. Jim Carrey, behind a rubbery green face, is the master of cackles and distorted facial expressions. A heroic little girl is in danger more than once. Kids who understand the difference between the real and the fantastical will delight in the chaotic, very funny mayhem. So will grown-ups. There are a few moments of crude humor along the way (i.e., the Grinch sticks his butt out and says, "Pucker up and kiss it," and several males ogle a buxom woman).


User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6, 9, and 14 year old Written byRUBY770 December 24, 2010

Skip the first half for kids younger than 9.

My 6 year old was scared of the first half of the movie because the grinch is mean and scary. The second half was better though when the grinch is still mean... Continue reading
Adult Written byParent of two February 27, 2015

Pass on this violent & scary one for kids under 9

It's PG rated for a reason. 90 minutes of over the top snarling buffoonish Jim Carey with a Tim Burton sort of feel at times. Lots of mean spirited, sarcas... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old December 20, 2010

Scary for young kids, but perfect for elementary schoolers.

Your kids are going to love it, but too scary for toddlers. Although there is crude humor, this movie is good. The lesson is powerful, and Cindy is a great mode... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 20, 2011

"You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch..."

This has always been my favorite Christmas movie. I love Jim Carrey as the Grinch. It used to fascinate me as a toddler, and I loved the colors. Common Sense mi... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the Christmas classic by Dr. Seuss, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS is the story of a Christmas-hating Grinch who tries to steal Christmas from the Christmas-loving Whos by taking all of their presents and decorations. But they and he come to realize that Christmas is in their hearts, not under their trees. The movie expands the story to let us explore Whoville and its residents and to tell us just how the Grinch came to hate Christmas in the first place.

Is it any good?

Jim Carrey and the Grinch were made for each other, while Taylor Momsen, as Cindy Lou Who, is adorable without being sugary. The script has some clever lines, including a parody of the film's director (former Andy Griffith Show star Ron Howard) and a dig at those who say that "kids today are desensitized by movies and television." Another of the movie's great joys is hearing Anthony Hopkins reads Seuss' words the way we have always heard them in our hearts.

Bill Irwin as Cindy Lou's harried mailman father, Jeffrey Tambor as the vain mayor, and Christine Baranksi as a Who with Christmas decorations that would make Martha Stewart gnash her teeth in envy all make vivid impressions. Whoville, as imagined by production designer Michael Corenblith, is the most magical setting since Dorothy landed in Munchkinland. The structures suspend the laws of gravity; there are a fantastic series of archways, bridges, stairs and spirals. Whoville clothes and hairstyles echo these shapes and then are topped with candy canes, cups of hot chocolate, and frosted cookies. Overall How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a bright, colorful addition to family-friendly Christmas fare.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas differs from the beloved animated version made for TV. Which do you like better? Which seems truer to the original Dr. Seuss book? 

  • Families can also talk about why it's so easy to forget the simple pleasures of the winter holidays, and how damaging it can be to peoples' feelings to tease them about being different. 

  • The Grinch often does things that he thinks will make him feel better, but they don't seems to work or help help him forget his loneliness. Why doesn't being bad feel as good as you might think it will?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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