Movie ReviewHow the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Ratings

Overall Recommendability: D (Discouraged)

Artistic & Entertainment Value: 1.5 stars (out of four)

Appropriate Audience: Teens & up

For more information on this movie's ratings, visit the Decent Films Guide at the link below.

Steven D. Greydanus does film criticism for a variety of media. He is the webmaster of the Decent Films Guide website.

(c) 2001 Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

The Facts

2000, Universal. Directed by Ron Howard. Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, Taylor Momsen, Christine Baranskim, Anthony Hopkins.


US Conference of Catholic Bishops: A-II, Adults & Adolescents

Some crude humor and sight gags; desacrilization of Christmas.

The Review

Who cares if I think the film doesn’t preserve

The quality of Seuss’s whimsy and verve?

Who cares if the Whos of this Who-ville all say

That Christmas means presents and dizzy display?

Who cares if they think Christmas comes from a mall

And their hearts — not the Grinch’s — are two sizes too small?

And, speaking of Grinches…

The “Mean One” himself —

Well, he’s not mean. More like a right goofy old elf.

He won’t ever shut up. He’ll clown and he’ll preen.

“You’re not Ace Ventura!” I shout at the screen.

Then a moment — just one — that is really just right:

That great grinchy smile with cheeks pulled back tight.

Then it’s gone. And I’m left with the mugging and pratfalls

And barely restraining my hisses and catcalls.

But who cares if these Whos aren’t charming or merry

And the Grinch isn’t grouchy or grinchy or scary?

Not Ronnie Howard! And not that Jim Carrey!

The box-office tribute to corporate greed

Is all of the vindication they need.

Now, let’s be quite honest. The real meaning and glory

Of Christmas was never the point of this story.

Dr. Seuss’s short tale never talked about why

There’s a song in the air or a star in the sky.

And the Chuck Jones cartoon had Whos gathered to sing,

But not of the manger that cradled a King.

But one thing, at least, The Grinch always made clear

Was that money can never buy holiday cheer.

Now that message is buried in big showy show.

The medium’s the message, and it says: Dough! Dough! Dough!

The Grinch is big bucks! He’s bigger! He’s badder!

And once more we’re all being told: “Size does matter!”

And the story!

No longer does no one know why

The Grinch hates Christmas season. It’s easy as pie:

He grew up in Who-ville, where bullies are mean

To anyone hairy and grinchy and green.

Now, one little Who-girl made his heart beat faster,

But a present he made for her turned to disaster.

The taunting was more than the young Grinch could stand

So he fled to the mountains away from Who-land.

(You’d think, with those Whos such insufferable pills,

There’d be lots more Grinches up there in those hills.)

And that Who-girl, who, by the way, liked the Grinch too,

Has grown up into a voluptuous Who

And, speaking of which…

Now I’m sure this will go

Right over kids’ heads, but you might like to know

About a Who-party where guests drop car keys

In a glass jar… and that’s all that anyone sees…

The “joke” is that keys in a jar is a “game”:

The keys that a man draws out aren’t the same

As the ones that he came with. Nor is the house

That he drives back home to with another man’s spouse.

Now, no kid will know this.

But why is it here?

It seems to suggest something awfully queer

About the filmmakers’ mindset. A sign to steer clear.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage