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YMMV / How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

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The 2018 film and the 2000 video game have their own pages.

The original book:

  • It Was His Sled: The Grinch doesn't steal Christmas, has a Heel–Face Turn, and ends up Saving Christmas instead. The proliferation of messaging surrounding merchandise and promotion of that harkens to the "Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more" moral makes it easy to deduce that this is how the story will end even if you've never read it before.
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  • Magnificent Bastard: The Grinch is a grumpy, bitter creature that hates Christmas—especially all the noise the Whos make—so much that he decides to steal it from the entire town of Whoville. After crafting a Santa Claus disguise for himself and a reindeer disguise for his dog Max, he enters the Whos' houses one by one while they are asleep and steals their gifts, food, and decorations. When the young Cindy-Lou Who catches the Grinch stealing her family's Christmas tree, he quickly makes up a lie to fool her. After stealing all of Christmas from the Whos, he finds that they can still enjoy Christmas even without them, which makes him see the error of his ways and return the stolen gifts and decorations.

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The 1966 animated special:

  • Adaptation Displacement: While the special hasn't completely displaced the book per se, we challenge anyone to read the book to themself and not hear Boris Karloff narrating it. Also, the Grinch's green coloring was an invention of the special — a somewhat necessary one, as Seuss' original illustrations were in black and white with red accents (at the time the book was published, color printing was still rather limited). To further drive the point home regarding how tied to the role Boris Karloff is, there exist two record productions of the story, one narrated by Zero Mostel (made before the cartoon special), and one by Walter Matthau (made after the special). Both performances sound particularly jarring to hear.
    • It must also be mentioned that both feature-film adaptations made sure to include "Welcome Christmas" and "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch," songs that were obviously written for the TV special.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Dr. Seuss was initially hesitant about making this special, remembering how badly his attempt to venture into film turned out and feared television would produce similar results. Instead, it became one of the most acclaimed Christmas Specials of all time.
  • Awesome Music: "The Villain Sucks" Song is a classic, and is easily the most famous part of the special.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: Again, Boris Karloff is the voice of the Grinch, to which every successor in the role is compared.
  • Crack Ship: Due to Thurl Ravenscroft voicing Tony the Tiger and singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", a crack theory suggested that Tony the Tiger and the Grinch had a really messy breakup, leading Tony to write "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" as a spiteful, vitriolic Break-Up Song. The ship gained even more steam after a popular and surprisingly well-written fanfic depicting the rekindling of their relationship.
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  • First Installment Wins: Far more universally beloved than any of the adaptations that followed.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The line "he even took their last can of Who Hash." Hash is the name of a dish consisting of chopped meat, potatoes, and fried onions. This was common knowledge back in 1966, but nowadays the word "hash" is more commonly associated with being a slang term for marijuana, making the line a shocking but funny surprise to modern viewers.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The famous "The Villain Sucks" Song is commonly rewritten to be about a hated character or real life person (usually a politician).
    • The Grinch's grin as he gets the "wonderful awful idea" of stealing Christmas.
  • Misaimed Fandom: It's become sort of a meme among social media users to criticize the famous song for being unbelievably harsh on the titular character, even though it's implied that the Grinch is a Card-Carrying Villain who probably enjoys all the insults the song throws at him.note 
  • Nightmare Fuel
    • The Grinch in general has a penchant for making various Nightmare Faces, most famously the Slasher Smile that just keeps going and going and going when he gets his "wonderful awful idea."
    • There's also the slow, sinister grin he makes at the sleeping kids before he steals their candy canes. Totally not a euphemism for anything. *cough* (it was even edited out of broadcasts for a time).
    • The Grinch's unsettling Count Orlok-esque wall shadow which all but consumes Cindy Lou Who as he's lying to her.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Maddox is thoroughly convinced the Whos are the worst neighbors in the multiverse and that the Grinch should be a sympathetic character for putting up with it for 53 years straight. Seuss himself actually said he sympathized a lot with the Grinch, having to deal with an increasingly merchandise-heavy Christmas season from his hilltop home in La Jolla.
  • Signature Scene: The Grinch making his Slasher Smile when he has a "wonderful awful idea".

The 2000 movie:

  • Adaptation Displacement: In some countries where the book and the animated short aren't well-known and/or were never published, many viewers were introduced to the Grinch story by this movie and refer to it as "the original" when comparing it to the 2018 animated film.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The Grinch's backstory provides one: is he just naturally bad from birth, or did he become that way from how he was treated by many of the Whos?
    • Due to her Adaptational Intelligence, the scene where Santa Grinch tries to fool Cindy Lou Who takes on a different tone from the original. When she leaves with a pointed message telling "Santa" not to forget the Grinch, was it just her being kind, or was she Obfuscating Stupidity and trying to appeal to the Grinch's good side?
    • A popular fan theory posits that Max was a Christmas puppy someone threw away like all the other garbage the Grinch rants about in his "Reason You Suck" Speech. This would explain his Undying Loyalty, with even his Servile Snarker moments being interpreted as simply how friends who knew other for a long time treat each other.
    • Grinch's "Loathe entirely!" when reading the book of Whos alphabetically is directed specifically at his hatred for the mayor, Augustus May-Who, given that he was Grinch's bully during their childhood. It fits when you consider that Augustus' name would come up early in the book alphabetically.
  • Awesome Music
    • Although some would say it's more of a Award-Baiting Guilty Pleasure, "Christmas, Why Can't I Find You?" and its full-length country-pop version "Where Are You Christmas?" is a touching song that has become somewhat of a modern Christmas staple.
    • For the instrumental score, you can never, ever go wrong with James Horner.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Martha May Whovier. As a new character introduced in this film, she's either an accepted addition as Grinch's Love Interest (a lot of artwork has been made that shows them off together), or she's a completely pointless character that adds nothing of value to such a classic Christmas story.
  • Broken Base: While obviously not as hated as The Cat in the Hat, people do argue whether the film is worthwhile or not. Some people think it's So Okay, It's Average, while others see it as either bad or a good film overall.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: For millennials, Jim Carrey's voice is the Grinch in their minds.
  • Catharsis Factor: After seeing the Grinch be ruthlessly tormented by the Whos, him thrashing the entire festival — including his revenge on Maywho with the razor — is nothing short of rewarding. His "The Reason You Suck" Speech towards the Whos' selfishness and hypocrisy also deserves a mention.
  • Critical Backlash: From the half of the audience who likes it. It's not considered among the greatest Christmas films of all time, and the Adaptation Expansion and more negative approach to the Whos are controversial, but for fans it's not a bad film adaptation of the book and mostly maintains the spirit of it. And not to mention, it's far better than the following film based on a Dr. Seuss book. It helps that Ron Howard defended the film as more variations on a theme than a straight adaptation.
  • Critical Dissonance:
    • This was the #1 film in North America five weeks in a row upon release, and became the highest grossing film of 2000 domestically ($260 million) and remains the highest-grossing live-action Christmas movie since Home Alone. But critical response was sharply divided (52% on Rotten Tomatoes and 46/100 on Metacritic): Some like the film, and some consider it an abomination. Audiences are similarly divided as well: 55% on Rotten Tomatoes, 6.5 on Metacritic, and 6.1 on IMDB.
    • It earned three Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Makeup, which was very well deserved considering what the actors had to go through. Especially poor Jim Carrey who had to act in a stuffy yak-furred suit for a whopping 92 days, which took at least two-and-a-half hours to apply and the same amount of time to remove every day. He got nominated for Best Actor (Musical/Comedy) at the Golden Globes for his performance. On the flip side, the film also got two nominations at the 2000 Razzies for Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Screenplay, but "won" neither.
  • Cult Classic: Since the film's release and especially after The Cat in the Hat and later the 2018 Animated Adaptation The Grinch, there are those who think of this film as a live-action Christmas classic. Jim Carrey's performance and the effective makeup and messages are the particular strengths for them. Quoting this movie is a time-honored social media tradition for those who enjoyed it as children.
  • Fetish Retardant: Martha's provocative outfits and flirtatious voice were clearly intended as a Christmas present for all the dads in the audience, but combining Christine Baranski's sex appeal with Seussian costume designs and Who makeup just forces you to acknowledge that a hypersexual character exists in a Dr. Seuss story, and the implications alone just leaves too many people disgusted to find her sexy.
  • First Installment Wins: Compared to its Spiritual Successor The Cat in the Hat, it at least tries to be suitable for all ages and doesn't lose focus on its plot. Even it's harshest critics will agree it was better than the adaptation that followed, if only for Jim Carrey's performance.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Despite its missteps in tone, it still keeps the spirit of the original story for the most part. The infamous The Cat in the Hat film that followed it, however, forgot all of the stuff that worked and instead focused on amplifying everything about The Grinch movie that was bad. The generous examples of Parental Bonus and demographically inappropriate humour that ultimately destroy Cat in the Hat were counterbalanced in The Grinch with things that were true to the original story and mostly-justifiable instances of Adaptation Expansion, and the creepy look of the Whos ultimately had nothing on Thing 1 and Thing 2. As well, Jim Carrey's performance as the Grinch is funny, touching, and consistent in its characterization compared to Mike Myers's lazy see-what-sticks approach to the Cat (and that's not even taking the far inferior makeup into account).
  • Genius Bonus: In Horton Hears a Who!, first published three years before the original Grinch book, Whoville is established as being inside a dust speck. In this movie, it's inside a snowflake, but this is consistent since snowflakes form around dust specks in real life; being inside an ice crystal is just what makes it winter there.
  • Ham and Cheese: Jim Carrey providing his trademark ham to the movie's cheese. While the critics provide the whine.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Jerkass Woobie: The Grinch due to his new backstory. He was a borderline sociopath as a kid until one Christmas he put all his heart into embracing the holiday and being good... and wound up traumatized and an outcast in the end. Then at the Whobilation, he starts getting into the holiday again... until the Mayor yanks his chain and reinforces his previous cynical view of it.
  • Jerks Are Worse Than Villains: While the Grinch is still the antagonist of the story, he is considered to be much nicer than Mayor Augustus. He bullied the Grinch when they were kids and even years later he still sees the Grinch as an outcast. When the Grinch was invited to partake in the Cheermeister Celebration, he was genuinely having a good time. He could have turned over a new leaf right there and then, if Augustus didn't remind him of the worst day of the Grinch's life and publicly propose to Martha May just to pour salt in the wound.
  • Just Here for Godzilla
    • Jim Carrey constantly Chewing the Scenery is one of the most remembered things about this movie. Even professional critics and/or non-fans of Carrey will admit that, regardless of their thoughts on his performance, his casting as the Grinch was perfect.
    • Fans of retro-vaudevillian performer Bill Irwin mainly watch this movie to see his performance as Lou Lou Who, as it's one of his only starring roles in a major motion picture.
    • Others watch it for a young Taylor Momsen.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Many people have commented on how Mayor Maywho bears a rather disturbing resemblance to former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
    • "This is not pudding."
    • "BRILLIANT!"
    • “Almost lost my cool there.”
    • Help me! I’m… feeling!
    • The entire scene of the Grinch reading aloud his schedule in order to justify not leaving his lair briefly reached memetic status in 2020 as various countries began enforcing national lockdowns.
    • "Baby Grinch" has quickly caught gained memetic statues near the end of the 2010s decade due to his uncanny design. It's become a popular reaction image on Tumblr and 4chan during the Christmas season.
  • Misaimed Marketing: While the film is against consumerism, there were a lot of merchandising tie-ins the year of its release, including video games, a board game, toys and otherwise.
  • Misblamed: Detractors of the film's jokes aimed at adults tend to blame Jim Carrey, who is notorious for ad-libbing and adult humor, for it. It was actually Executive Meddling by the studio that was responsible for the cruder jokes. Carrey actually wanted to keep the film family-friendly.
  • Moe:
    • Cindy Lou Who.
    • Young Martha May, ignoring that suggestive lollipop scene.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Already expressing Fantastic Racism against the Grinch even when they were kids and being a Hate Sink as is, Mayor Maywho crosses it when he not only pushes the Grinch into rage at the festival, but then berates Cindy Lou in front of everyone after he's stolen Christmas for trying to help the Grinch too, essentially blaming a little girl for what's happened.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The amount of creepy-looking people in the film have unsettled many younger viewers over the years.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The baby Grinch is onscreen for maybe two minutes.
  • Retroactive Recognition
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: Appropriate for a character who's first scene has her hanging up lights while wearing a provocative outfit, Martha is a textbook "sexy lamp" character who really only exists to give the Grinch and the Mayor something else to fight over. Her relationship to either man has absolutely no bearing on the plot and cutting her entirely wouldn't change it in the slightest.
  • Rooting for the Empire: The Grinch was already subject to this sometimes, but this movie increased it by fleshing out his backstory and giving him a Freudian Excuse, along with making the Whos all seem rather shallow and greedy and just plain stupid by comparison.
  • Signature Scene: A lot of the scenes that revolve around Jim Carrey on his own Chewing the Scenery as the Grinch are some of the most timeless moments that people fondly look back on. Some of these classic Carrey-Grinch scenes include him stating his hate to everyone listed in the Whoville telephone book, arguing with his own echo, and reading through his daily schedule.
  • Special Effects Failure: The film boasts some pretty impressive practical effects and outright stunning makeup, the latter being enough to earn the Best Makeup Oscar, and still look impressive today. The CGI and greenscreen effects, however, are firmly of their time, especially the CGI Santa in the Grinch's binoculars or the ending scene of him skiing down Mt. Crumpit (it's also very easy to see when the scene cuts from greenscreen to a live set).
  • Squick
    • At one point, the Grinch gleefully tricks the sleeping mayor into rimming Max. No, really.
    • How about the fact that the Grinch really does have termites in his smile?
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • The Grinch's anti-Christmas rant in Whoville is not entirely without merit, given how materialistic and mean the Whos have been treating him over the years, and how they seem to be all too willing to Yank the Dog's Chain. Even Cindy Lou Who echoes his complaints about the Whos placing too much emphasis on gifts; it's just that the Grinch's complaints feel far more justified, given his backstory treating him like a Jerkass Woobie. The Grinch's plan would have succeeded if it hadn't been for Lou Lou Who standing up for his daughter and reminding the people that they still have each other on Christmas.
    • Mayor Augustus' insistence than the Grinch not be allowed to attend the Christmas festivities is framed as his personal vendetta against him, but he has good reason to keep him away from the town. Even if they didn't know it, earlier in the film we saw the Grinch go around town vandalizing personal property, giving weapons to kids, messing up people's mail deliveries, and generally delighting in terrorizing the Whos. True, Augustus is directly responsible for sparking the Grinch's Christmas Eve rampage, but the Grinch was a powder keg of rage and destruction that was just waiting to go off, and the mayor is in full rights to be concerned about inviting a volatile troublemaker like him to the centennial of their biggest celebration of the year.
  • Ugly Cute: Baby Grinch!
  • Values Dissonance
    • Young Martha's flirtatiousness, especially her first shot where she's dreamily licking a lollypop, was pushing the envelope but not considered too offensive for the movie-going public of 2000, who were used to seeing much more explicit jailbait imagery in Britney Spears videos. In the social media age, when it's become much easier for people to point to the evidence of how harmful even the most gently implied sexualization of minors can be to underage people, it feels much more inappropriate.
    • Adult!Martha isn't much better. Her many, many provocative outfits and lustful attitude were already considered Fetish Retardant when the film was first released (her first scene alone has her rapid-firing from a canon that causes her to jiggle around a lot while wearing a stripperiffic Santa-themed hoop skirt and bustier), but like the above, having such blatant female objectification and explicit sexuality in a family movie would greatly upset people concerned with the effect of both on children.
    • The Grinch calling Max a "sicko" for assuming that his "kilt" (read: tablecloth worn around his waist) is a dress. Nowadays, just assuming that isn't seen as sick at all.
  • Values Resonance: With the increased consumerism regarding Christmas since 2000, the film's message about gifts really aged well.
  • Vindicated by History: While nobody is about to call this film a masterpiece, opinions of it have softened into more of a Guilty Pleasure, especially when held up next to the far less popular adaptation of The Cat in the Hat, which cranked the inappropriate jokes Up to Eleven and had much poorer casting choices (say what you will about Jim Carrey, but he's a much better choice for The Grinch than Mike Myers was for The Cat). In the wake of the animated version from 2018, which was criticized for trying so hard to be inoffensive that it wound up being insufferably dull, others have given this one credit for at least doing a distinct variation on its source material, whether or not it always worked.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: One thing the viewers can unanimously agree on with this movie is how spot on the make-up for the Grinch is. They managed to make Jim Carrey look exactly like the Grinch without the slightest restriction to his wide array of facial expressions, a feat that could not have been easy; to give an idea of how much free range Carrey's facial muscles had, his version of the Grinch's iconic Evil Grin is entirely him being able to pull that off on command. No wonder this film won the Academy Award for Best Makeup in 2000.
  • The Woobie: Cindy. She's completely missing out on what Christmas truly is and nobody listens to her at all. It gets to the point that, when she cheers up the Grinch by sending him to the Cheermister and Mayor May-Who's cruel joke on the Grinch causes the Grinch to destroy the entire place, she is blamed instead of May-Who.
    Cindy: (heartbroken) I just wanted everyone to be together for Christmas.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: The teen and adult Whos; their doglike facial features and lack of visible lips makes for copious amounts of Unintentional Uncanny Valley, especially next to the kids, who look like normal humans with only slight modifications (Cindy Lou Who's large front teeth, for instance).

Stage Musical

  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Grinch infiltrates the Whoville shopping mall to get the supplies that he needs for his schemes. When nearly busted, he lies that he's from "Who-ston" and awkwardly tries to smile.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Patrick Page of Hadestown fame recorded and starred in the first Broadway staging of this show. He uses his Hades voice for the Grinch, fittingly enough.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Patrick Page has a deep bass voice and a menacing presence when he gets into character even when listening to the 2006 official Broadway recording. Matthew Morrison in contrast is a tenor, and thus had to adjust his voice for the Hulu recorded version.


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