A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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).
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?
- In theaters: November 17, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: November 19, 2001
- Cast: Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor, Jim Carrey
- Director: Ron Howard
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, Holidays
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild peril and brief crude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.